In the jungle, no one will hear the sound of a corpse being dragged around you. Remember, no one notices what you do in town. Colombian director Andres Ramirez Pulidore’s debut feature, PackScreening at Critics Week in the Ear, opens with a bag of familiar images from current Latin American cinema – some teenage boys in neon-light urban darkness, some sniffing wide and wiping their noses, a bike screaming “stolen” they care down a highway As – but soon detours to strangers and many more remote areas. One thing you can be sure of: no matter where they are, these guys are going to get into trouble.
Where they are, once that opening sequence sets a scene that will immediately tear from under our feet, mysterious. Elliott (Jhojan Esteven Jimenez) was previously spotted under a street light with a bottle in hand, one of the gang working around a decayed Hasender, led by Alvaro, who empties an immobile swimming pool under the sun before clearing to perform a strange exercise. Miguel Vieira), compressed but stiff, who tells them to breathe, close their eyes and return the negative energy to the earth. Dominate a pickle drum-beat soundtrack. They then sleep in an empty room, tie chains together and chew on mosquitoes. Abuse and you can squat for hours in stressful positions or starve the group for days, while Alvaro assures everyone that, like a gang, Fast and furiousThey are all family.
What is this place? A kind of open prison, but run like a religion and – as we later discovered – under the patronage of a distant boss who is using these juvenile prisoners as cheap labor to turn Hasinda into a spa hotel. Elliott refuses to talk to his old partner El Mono (Michael Andres Jimenez) about the street crime, when he arrives in a bullock truck with the boys’ next shipment. El Mono, always indifferent, wants to know why not. “Things are different here,” Ellio muttered. When he’s not working, he mostly looks at the ground. They all do. “Swallow your words,” warns another prisoner.
They have to swallow a range of unspecified drugs – modern jailers – although this is nothing new to any of them. The conversation we hear between the boys, taking a break from the forest surrounded by Hassinder’s back garden, is a lively exchange about their combination of the best medicine of all time. The best thing in life – the only good thing – is wasting.
When Eliu’s younger brother (Carlos Steven Blanco) comes to visit, he is clearly looking forward to the same terrible future. “School: I’m not in it,” he declared. “I hang out with Grillo and his gang; We’ve squatted on a village house. Since you were locked up, I’ve learned things. “
The film suggests that there is something wrong with these children who are born into street crime, which leads to violence, addiction, and even habitual domination. That bad thing, whether you want it to be poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence or to keep a monster on shore is inherent in life – or so they are led to believe in themselves, which is the same thing. “Let’s not waste time in this mess,” prosecutors said when Elliott and El Mono were chained at night and taken into the woods to find the body of the murdered man together. Godoy, the gangster guard was almost never seen except for the huge rifle hanging across his chest, looming in the shade. Relatives of the murdered man – the boss of a petty crime Elliot allegedly mistaken his own father – stand stupidly when the boys are questioned. As if their trial was going on, but in the middle of the forest when they were young.
This Pack: A subtlely hierarchical mix of recognized social reality and dystopian strangeness. Like blindfolded boys, we never know where we are. The stylized composition, showing the characters held for a moment in the middle of the screen, adds an uncomfortable feeling that we are in a world where we are captives and some guards, but beyond that, there are no rules.
In this and in the stimulating use of Colombia’s extraordinary natural landscape, Pack Tribute to the extraordinary 2019 film of Alejandro Lands Monkey, About a community of teenage fighters who are trained by a cable of lunatics in the mountains of Colombia. At first, you might think that the two films are taken together, forming a kind of Colombian cinematic universe, a strange franchise of drug-addicted teen survivors. As it settles into its own groove, it feels more like a bookend. Children in war; Children in prison. Lots of kids as high as kites. Pack Horrible going on, but it’s really a special film.