Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Morire Sola (I'll Never Die Alone)

I read the imdb reviewer Coventry's positive piece on this film -- "The South American I Spit On Your Grave" -- and went in search of it immediately.

I'm very partial to films such as I Spit on Your Grave and have shot a rape scene or two myself (Defenceless, Beyond The Pale, Marauders).

The Spanish/Argentinian title is No Morire Sola and the English title is I'll Never die Alone.

The only DVD I found (and purchased) was the Japanese version, which is retitled The Hell.

It's a pretty striking cover.

Needless to say, I was primed for something pretty special.

Unfortunately, the film fell way below expectations.

Let's be honest -- the draw of a film like this for the viewer is the opportunity to see (endure) scenes of aestheticized violence (rape and revenge).

Films such as Irreversible and I Spit on Your Grave promise a second-hand, vicarious experience of raping, being raped, getting angry, taking revenge, and feeling that justice is served.

Cinema is all about vicarious experience, even if the experience is often couched in misleading, academic, esoteric language.

Exploitation cinema appeals to our basic instincts. It gives us a safe arena to experience the unknown ,the unpalatable, and the downright illegal. If it's done well, with pace, fury, energy and passion, it's entertaining.

Unfortunately, No Morire Sola, though clearly well-intentioned, fails to perform its primary function.

Four girls driving across the Argentinian countryside are attacked by rapists. In an extended sequence, which, let's be honest, is the reason for watching this, the girls are raped and left for dead. Later, they are recaptured, roughed up some more, and left for dead. Later again, the surviving girls take revenge on the rapists.

It's the classic exploitation set-up, and on paper it works.

The challenge when you're screwing around with such familiar, been-done-a-thousand-times subject matter is making the predictable situations interesting. And impactful. Where the film fails initially is in the cinematography department. I don't know what video camera they were using, but the look of the film is terrible. Have you ever shot a person against a window and they go dark while the window behind looks like a blast from an atomic bomb. Well, there's a lot of that look in this. A solution would have been reflectors and more judicious placement of the camera.

The script? It's not in plain sight. The characters wander from scene to scene with no rigid purpose. There is zero suspense. The acting is drab. The pacing is haphazard. Overall, it's a sloppy effort.

So what are the rape sequences like? You know you want to know that. Well, as rape sequences go, they're flat and boring. Compared to similar sequences in Irreversible, the Death Wish films, I Spit On Your Grave, Straw Dogs, The Hunting Party, White Rose Campus - Then, Everybody Gets Raped, Raping!, Assault Jack the Ripper, All Women Are Whores, Fair Game, Flower and Snake, Red To Kill, Thriller - A Cruel Picture, they don't justify the film's existence. Which is a shame. Because it only really exists for these.

And the revenge sequences, of course.

Sad to say, they're flat, too. A bit of shooting. An extended burial sequence which just goes on and on to fill screen time.

A final criticism is the sound. It's almost non-existent. Although there are a few creepy music cues (courtesy of Hernan Penner), meaty, powerful sound FX such as gunshots, stabs, and punches are missing altogether. Their absence totally undermines some potentially harrowing scenes.

No doubt about it, the Argentinian artwork is stunning, and the film's locations are well chosen. The art makes me me think of Jessica Biel in Marcus Nispel's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. And the heat of that memorable Texas day.

Clearly, director Adrian Garcia Bogliano is a fan of Texas. He even frames the girls' van similarly in an early scene. It's also an indication of what he was striving for. He does have the heat, and he does have the set-up, but the rotten aesthetics let the film down. Yes, the photography stinks. And I'm not saying that because it's video and low budget. It costs the same to shoot video well. You just need a director of photography who knows what they're doing.

Next time, I hope Mr. Bogliano will not allow the photography to compromise his vision. In an ideal world, it should enhance it.


***

The stills used in this piece are not frame grabs; the movie doesn't look this good.

4 comments:

  1. This is disheartening news indeed.

    I don't mind DV or tape at all. The results are directly related to talent and effort.

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  2. d -- I'm with you. Non-film can be very aesthetically rich. But it is less leniant in the hands of amateurs. Even bad film can look substantial.

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  3. Where did you buy the dvd?

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  4. Anon -- bought it on amazon.co.jp. The title there is 'Hell' (nopt be be confused, of course, with Nakagawa's 'Jikogu' aka 'Hell'.

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