Undergods (2020)

I was intrigued by this. Anthology films are always really interesting to see. I like seeing how the different stories interact with each other and how the writer tells different stories in the same universe. Also it looked like it could be fascinatingly brutal.

It’s not though. It’s not brutal. It’s bleak, there’s a difference. There’s not really many “holy shit” moments, it’s just an unending sense of dread, the cinematic equivalent of a boot stamping on a human face forever, then laughing as they do so. I think that was what made the film not for me. It was just so bleak and nihilistic that I didn’t really care or get emotionally invested. I wasn’t even emotionally devastated by the bad things that happened to these people, I was just so apathetic that I didn’t give a shit. I don’t think it helped that two of the stories seemed somewhat similar, in fact, all the stories were so similar in tone there wasn’t much emotional difference between the three. It felt like it was just three ways of making the same point. I can’t really remember the stories themselves in terms of how they unfolded, I can remember bits and pieces of them, but none of them really stuck with me, which is a shame. I think part of that is a location. The stories, and the way the film looks (and more on that later) brings to mind more Eastern European work, something about it just screams “former Soviet country”, but the story is in English, just seems kind of strange.

Now onto the good: from a technical standpoint it was pretty damn impressive. The music was cool, kind of synth-ey in a way that made it seem both retro and timeless. Reminded me of Come True, which as anybody who has been keeping up with these reviews knows, is pretty high praise. The look is good too, the use of colours to create the universe is brilliantly done. I don’t know when they filmed this, it could have been in the middle of summer, but the use of colour and set design makes it look absolutely freezing. You feel cold just looking at it (which probably leads to me feeling it feels more like a Soviet state).

The messages are depressingly timeless too, the themes present throughout the narrative are ones you will always see in art that has something to say. It’s just concerning that it happens to people who we don’t care about, and is dependent on characters behaving in a very certain way.

So in summary, I’m much impressed by Chino Moya’s work as a director than I was by his as a writer. I wouldn’t be tempted to see a film he only wrote, but I wouldn’t hesitate to watch something he only directed. It’s a film you’ll be impressed by, but not one you’ll really feel anything for.

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