Saturday 27 October 2012

Cargols! (2011)

Director: Geoffrey Cowper
Stars: Marc Ayala and Mireia Figueras
This film was an official selection at Phoenix FearCon V in Scottsdale in 2012. Here's an index to my festival reviews.
An accomplished and thoroughly enjoyable short film from Spain, Cargols! is an odd movie in that its biggest success is also its biggest failure. On the positive side, it's a stereotypical feature length monster movie with all the crap taken out. For the record, that makes it fourteen minutes long. On the negative side, that means that everything we see is something we recognise from a whole host of other movies. We get every setup, every shock moment, every red herring. We get every screw up, every heroic gesture, every shot at redemption. We get every emotional peak, every slomo shot, every topical choice of song. If you don't recognise every single cliché then you haven't watched enough monster movies. Yes, it starts in lover's lane with some guy trying to get some. No, he doesn't manage it. Yes, it moves to a party crashed by monsters. Yes, the hero saves both the day and the heroine. No, their happy ending doesn't reflect the big picture.

All this guarantees that there isn't a single surprising moment to be found anywhere in the film, which therefore has to succeed on completely different merits. It succeeds on the writing front as Geoffrey Cowper, who also directed, understands not only the mechanics of monster movies but that they're fundamentally supposed to be fun too. He manages to sneak a few nice touches in there as well; the immediate reaction of all the partygoers when a giant snail breaks their party up is to film it on their phones because it'll look great on YouTube and the Jurassic Park section is priceless. It succeeds with the acting too, as Marc Ayala and Mireia Figueras are both capable and pleasing to the eyes and they're well supported by a string of others with much less to do. They play Joel and his first girlfriend, Eva, who he unwisely dumped when he thought it meant he was getting popular. He's regretted it ever since and now he gets the chance to try again.
It's mostly successful on the technical side too. The song choices are appropriate throughout, though I can't believe they got clearance for all of them. They're matched well to the action on screen, down to the Angus Young trainers the hero's wearing. The tone of the piece feels right as well, though it loses a little when it gets too stylised, like with the running against the tide shot. The biggest flaw is probably the effects. The giant snails are good but far from great. They do exactly what they should but they're far too obviously animated graphics. Maybe we're spoiled by the achievements of modern day effects wizards, but the animators from the Barcelona 3D School here created monsters that don't quite live up to the live action world that they're placed in. It isn't a major flaw and it certainly doesn't stop the fun, which is what this short thrives on. Just don't expect anything you haven't seen before.

1 comment:

Thomas M. Malafarina said...

I loved this movie. I saw it for the first time today at the Greater Berks County Film Festival. I never even thought of taking it seriously for a single moment and as a result, enjoyed every second of it. I hope to see it many times again to catch all of the nuances the film holds which I likely missed in the single showing. I may have to apologize to serious film buffs, but I loved. it.