Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Aftermath (1994)/Genesis (1998)

This feature delivers three short films by director Nacho Cerda. Cerda recently directed The Abandoned, which screened at the After Dark Horrorfest. After seeing three of his short films, I am very disappointed that I missed seeing The Abandoned in theaters. Cerda certainly has an eye for horror, disturbing imagery and a knack with crafting eerie and, especially in the case of Aftermath, brutal stories.

The first short is about six minutes long and is entitled The Awakening. A student dozes off in class only to wake up to find that time has stopped. Everyone else in class is frozen in time, but he moves freely about. He discovers that he cannot escape the classroom as the windows and doors are impassable. What's happened to him? What's happened to time? Made in 1991 and shot in black and white, this film looks like old footage from the '50s. The ending isn't shocking, but like the rest of Cerda's shorts in this collection, it is devoid of dialogue. The classical soundtrack carries the film and this technique is, in fact, Cerda's trademark. An ok starting point for the trio of shorts, but the best is yet to come.

The absolute highlight of the collection is the second film, Aftermath. In a cold and clinical morgue, two morgue workers are performing autopsies on two patients. They remove all the organs to weigh and measure them. This includes the brain, which they have to scoop out after sawing open the skull. The chest is cut open and the ribs are buzz-sawed to reveal the rest of the organs. The heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and other organs are all removed, weighed and thrown back into the corpse before it is neatly sewn up and hosed off. One of the coroners finishes up and leaves the other one alone as a pretty young dead woman is wheeled in. Now alone, the remaining coroner relishes his alone time with her, mutilating and defiling her. Shocking and morbid, this film only runs 30 minutes but you'll be left feeling sick to your stomach for hours (perhaps days) afterward. The best part of this film is how realistic it looks. The autopsies look (and sound) incredibly real. I loved watching the autopsy bits, as I'm fascinated with the forensic side of things! As with The Awakening, there is no dialogue, but the main actor playing does a great job conveying his sick emotions, even with most of his face hidden behind surgical glasses and a surgical mask. The action is also buoyed along by the classical soundtrack. The film is shot beautifully, with long wide shots showing the autopsy action and extreme close-ups of gore. Everything is filmed under harsh, bluish fluorescent lighting, giving the morgue a starkly clinical look. Aftermath is extremely disturbing, sick, realistic and not for the faint of heart. You may want to consider cremation after watching this film...

The last film is Genesis, and it tells of a sculptor who is haunted by the loss of his wife. He has made dozens of statues of her, and is currently working on a beautiful life-size sculpture of her. Strange things start to happen - the statue begins to bleed, then slowly cracks appear to reveal what appears to be human skin underneath. The sculptor also has a transformation, as he appears to be turning into a statue himself! Again, this is a beautiful and creepy film. It does not contain the gore that Aftermath features, but is still well done nonetheless.

Now, more than ever, I am eager to check out Cerda's The Abandoned and any other projects he may do. Do yourself a favor and check out his work, especially Aftermath.

Order it on Amazon!

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