Scenes from “Satanás” [2007 Colombia, Mexico]

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You’d be forgiven for assuming that any Latin American film titled “Satanás” must be a nunsploitation flick from a bygone age. As it turns out, this 2007 drama is a recreation of a shocking 1986 massacre in Colombia when a Vietnam vet killed 29 people including his own mother, before turning the gun on himself. For a feature-length directorial debut, Andrés Baiz had constructed a brilliant crime drama indeed. He makes us follow not just the protagonist but some of the victims before they find themselves at the restaurant where the final act happens.

When I bought the film, I thought it was a psychological thriller, that this was a crime drama inspired by true events was a revelation. Damián Alcázar gives a restrained performance as the soft spoken Eliseo, an English professor and former soldier in the US Army, getting lonelier and depressed by the day, until he finally snaps. The screenplay is particularly well written – we see some of the victims even interact innocently with Eliseo days earlier, and that is not all – some background stories not directly related to the massacre, but may have contributed to the victims being in the wrong place at the wrong time were also conjured up to give us a bigger picture. It is cinema of high calibre along the lines of early Gaspar Noé works, and I’m surprised that so little is known about this film outside Spanish-speaking countries. The direction, dialogues, editing, cinematography and set design are all of high quality, including the performances by all the main characters. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!



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