Sunday 22 July 2012

Brutal Relax (2010)

Director: Adrián Cardona, Rafa Dengrá and David Muñoz
Star: José María Angorrilla
This film was an official selection at the 8th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Scottsdale in 2012. Here's an index to my reviews of 2012 films.
Brutal Relax has won many awards, all from festivals in foreign countries with names I've never heard of, as befits a picture whose very title makes no sense in English and which was made by three directors, each with an accent somewhere within each of their names. As if to highlight his importance, the lead actor has two, because it really is all about him. And gore. Let's not forget the gore. There's more of that here than you can comfortably imagine. First, though, there's Mr Olivares. He's apparently recovered and is ready to leave hospital. We have precisely no idea of his condition but he's now so happy and unresponsive that he looks like he's been lobotomised. The doctor wants him to take a holiday, to somewhere beautiful where he can stay calm and relax. He gives no reply except that incessant happy face but he looks like the perfect tourist as he heads off for the sun in suitably colourful attire.

He's apart from everyone else even as he arrives. He shows up on the beach in a pair of tighty whities, white socks and a pair of headphones, carrying a suitcase. He plops himself down in the beach cesspool but seems very happy, slathering himself with crud. And it's all pretty peaceful: calm and relaxing, just what the doctor ordered. We see families having a great time. We hear sunbathing girls giggle. But not for long. Out of the sea comes a horde of zombies, gorgeously made up marine zombies with scaly skin oozing neon green slime and covered in ocean detritus. They pose for a moment like a metal band doing a photo shoot and then it gets very real indeed. The tourists get very gory very quickly with gruesomely inventive technique, but Mr Olivares simply sits back in his puddle of crud and grins. Well, until the batteries on his Walkman run out. Then he gets angry and turns into a brutal angel of destruction, a Spanish take on the Thing.
For the most part, this is complete overkill. Eleven of the fifteen minutes constitute a marathon of special effects, gruesome gore without any semblance of plot. The beachgoers are just props for the zombies to destroy and the zombies are just props for Mr Olivares to destroy. It might be fun to review it as some sort of spiritual journey or feminist manifesto, but it's really an excuse to go hog wild with the gore effects. That's it. There's nothing else here. It is structured well, at least, built in five sections of vaguely three minutes each that keep ramping up. What keeps it all from becoming boring is the humour which is inherent and frequently gloriously wrong, the unusual lead and a neat contrast between happy music and outrageous gore. On the downside, the camerawork is too jerky during the fight scenes and the choreography and greenscreen work show their seams. Really though, you won't care. If this is your thing, you'll revel in it.

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