‘Atroz’, also known as ‘Atrocious’, is a brutal Mexican film that begins with police arriving to the scene of vehicular homicide. Once they arrest the two drunk men responsible, Goyo & Gordo, they search the car and find a camcorder. And once the police chief presses play, he is immediately enraged and disgusted. The two men are brought to the station for questioning which is where the bulk of the film takes place. As time goes on, the police learn about other videotapes the duo has made, and slowly begins to enact their own justice upon them after evaluating their evidence. Structurally, it is a series of three previously filmed incidents intercut with the police procedural & interrogation.
This movie is nasty through and through. It has a very mean-spirited energy that permeates from start to finish. It bounces between the typical steady-cam footage involving the police while incorporating the three recorded incidents in a first-person SOV style. The distinction between the two shooting styles makes for rather potent synergy because it allows the audience to experience the present-day interrogation with minimal distractions, and also allowing the handheld camcorder footage to feel even more amateurish, grittier and authentic by comparison. The three SOV stories we see play out at different periods in time, which also gives it an almost anthology-like feeling. The first tape is the most recent incident involving a trans sex worker being tortured, the second involves a stripper and her relationship with Goyo before and after her death, and the third is the longest segment which shows Goyo as a teenager being sexually abused & humiliated by his father for being a homosexual and then taking matters into his own hands.
The depravity on screen truly seems to only get worse and worse with each passing minute. Each section is filled to the brim with misogyny, torture, sexual violence, gore, bigotry and hate-filled language, and abuse of every type. Without going into details, there are some things happening here that truly test your gag reflex as well as your moral codes. You will hear a lot of homophobic slurs all throughout the film, but the evolution of the tapes themselves and the revelation of Goyo’s past help shape that this is actually one huge story about his culture, uprising, and living situations. While none of this is deemed as ‘okay’ or ‘acceptable’, it does help that the film in itself atleast helps us understand the psychology of what has been happening for years to these characters. There’s also an even deeper layer happening here because Goyo is played by the writer & Director of the film himself – Lex Ortega.
It’s a film that places the emphasis on the brutality and normalcy of these violent crimes on the streets of Mexico, and its also about the many monsters that machismo and a numb culture can cultivate.
This film basically feels like Mexico’s ‘August Underground’. It was mostly crowdfunded, and even includes a producer’s credit to Ruggero Deodato (director of Cannibal Holocaust). It has been dubbed and wears a tagline of “Mexico’s Most Brutal Film” – & it lives up to every expectation. It makes you feel sick and violated, while questioning at what point will you decide to look away, which is a good mark of some strong artistry. It absolutely will not be for everyone, but for those who are patiently waiting for Unearthed Films’ upcoming release of ‘August Underground’, then this is a perfect warm-up.
“Atroz” is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on a limited/newly OOP Bluray & DVD from Unearthed Films
‘Til Next Time,
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