Fantasia 2012: Depravity and lunacy cannot remain ‘Hidden in the Woods’ forever
Hidden In the Woods
Directed by Patricio Valladares
Written by Patricio Valladares and Andrea Cavaletto
What exactly consists of a good groundhouse picture? Which conceivable, perceptible elements are sufficient for one movie fan, presumably one owing some familiarity in the genre, to conclude that groundhouse movie ‘a’ was swell, whereas movie grondhouse ‘b’ was not. Is the genre itself not supposed to give birth to films that, if assessed along the typically recognized guidelines (good acting, good story, good directing, good special effects provided said effects are present), are by and large bad? That is partly their charm, a charm virtually no other genre can claim. This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival lineup reserved some special projects for such fans. One was Michael Biehn’s directorial debut, The Victim, a film this movie reviewer found dreadful (for an altogether different take, here is Michael Ryan’s review and interview with the director himself), another being the world premier of Chilean Patrico Valladares’ Hidden in the Woods, which somehow earned far more points and more…respect, if such a quality can be ascribed to fetishistic muck like this movie. Loosely inspired by real events, by the way.
This is the sort of film for which plot matters, but only by the thinnest of margins. Plot is not of the essence. Its genuine purpose is to set the hysterics in motion, to let hell in on God’s green earth loose, unhinged, uncontrolled, unadulterated. Director Valladares’ film opens with a quick series of events from the past, relating to how sisters Ana (Siboney Lo) and Any (Carolina Escobar) got to where they are today: imprisoned in their father’s home in the Chilean countryside with little to do save being raped by dad and caring for, ill suited for the task as they may be, their younger, completely retarded brother Manuel (José Hernandez). Their father helps uncle Costello (François Soto) with the latter’s small drug empire, preserving significant amounts of products nearby for safekeeping in the event of future deals. Things take a turn for the worse, somehow, if it can be believed, on the day two police officers arrive on the premise, alerting the father to drop his chainsaw. The latter refuses, proceeds to hack the officers to bits, during which time the sisters and Manuel take off. Their major concern is that daddy was eventually apprehended, making Costello very nervous about the whereabouts of his drugs, knowledge only the girls are privy to now. It’s time to hunt them down, by any means necessary…