An Argentinian horror film.

ataud-blanco-white-coffin-2016-poster

Atuad Blanco, or White Coffin for those who don’t want to seem too pretentious, is another minimalist horror film. I tend to like the aesthetics of Latin American horror films. Something about the calmness of the setups and the realism of the shots pleases me. However, this film is also plagued by an overbearing soundtrack that makes most of the scenes more annoying than anything. Absurd soundtracks seem to be an unfortunate trend in films from this corner of the world.

Soundtrack aside, the film is quite sparse. The minimalism perhaps goes a bit too far. The meager 80-minute runtime doesn’t allow a ton of time for any of the characters to fully develop. We follow Virginia after her daughter is kidnapped by a mysterious group. Unfortunately, the slow burn of the introduction is abandoned to loud and frequent cuts as she frantically works to get her daughter back.

The film is loud. Everything is blaring most of the time, yelling, cutting, shifting of focus, blah blah blah. All the trickery in the world can’t cover up the fact that we have all seen this movie before. Even the more interesting twists in the standard revenge film (Virginia being granted a supernatural stay from death for one more day to find her daughter) are dragged down by the overly familiar narrative.

The movie throws about every trope you can think of at the wall and creates a fairly odd mashup. We have kidnapping, the occult, car chases, and games. It is odd to me that games have become so popular in horror as of late. Honestly, for me, unless the premise of the movie is a game from the start, it just seems kind of stupid in most movies.

The film is oddly not predictable and predictable at the same time. The dumb twists make it to where you won’t really know what is coming, but once the twist occurs, you recognize it instantly. Further, there are twists that just don’t make a lot of sense. When the writers are making up stuff as they go, it is easy for them to sell the movie as something you cannot possibly predict. Imagine if at the end of The Usual Suspects it turns out the whole thing was actually orchestrated by alien werewolves. Would you have seen that coming? Probably not, but that does not make it good writing.

Violence against children is one of (if not the) cheapest tricks in the book. Are we supposed to be shocked here? Are we supposed to care? It is almost as though they knew their characters were paper thin, so having the literal symbol of innocence in danger might get an emotional affect from the viewer. There is a level of depravity in harming children that can make a bad situation horrifying. However, these tricks must be done with a deft hand, which this film certainly does not have. Cheap appeals to emotions are just that—cheap.

Perhaps the weakest aspect of the film is the stagnant feeling it permeates throughout the whole work. I love horror films, but they seem to be getting lazy. I think the genre is suffering a sort of identity crisis as of late, and films like this tend to exacerbate the problem more than help it.

There isn’t a unifying theme to the movie. It is more so a series of red herrings that masquerade at twists. If you have never seen a horror film before, it might be interesting for you. This could have been good. The major point and final twist of the film could have been interesting. However, instead of properly setting this up, the film chose to instead waste time throwing the audience off. I suppose at least it isn’t the worst movie ever.  3/10.

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