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Simon Read [Celluloid 10.14.10] Cuba movie review horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Jorge Molina
Writers: Jorge Molina
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 8 out of 10

Molina’s Ferozz (aka “Wild Riding Hood”) is a film by Cuban director and film professor Jorge Molina, a director with whom I’m not at all familiar but after seeing this work would like to know more about. It’s a truly grotesque film; a pantomime of wild overacting, unsettling simulated sex, and an engaging mix of bizarre symbolism, and creative picture making. Set in and around the Cuban jungle it tells the story of a family of eccentrics and inbreds, headed up by the cruel, matriarchal land owner Ms. Zulma. Zulma is grandmother to the quiet, red hooded Miranda, mother to the alcoholic rapist Lucio and mother-in-law to Miranda’s own caring mother Dolores. There’s also Dully, who is both Lucio’s son, and younger brother, and frequent rape victim – he’s a sort of mentally challenged Christ figure, all beard and tatty robes. When we first meet Dully he is eagerly masturbating in some bushes while watching a group of topless beauties bathing in a river, singing about frisky hens. I guess what I’m kind of getting at here is that Ferozz is a film that has to be seen to be believed.

In the first act we are introduced to this dysfunctional family of freaks. Granny is forever screaming at the meek Dolores and her all-but-pubescent daughter Miranda (“Soon all the boys will be after her!”), and even orders a brutal rape and beating by Lucio at the dinner table after she deems the meal unacceptable. Dolores pleads to let Miranda and Dully leave unharmed, but granny refuses, and insists that they be next in line! All this rape seems to have Lucio pretty worn out and he promptly falls down dead, and we’re whisked to one-year-later, where Miranda is ‘all grown up’ and Granny is engaged in a fierce legal battle to have Dolores, Dully and Miranda evicted from her land, all while remaining bedridden and entirely dependent on her family’s charity (one trip a day through the woods with a picnic basket, sounds familiar). Meanwhile Dolores is seeing hunky woodsman Inocencio, her dead husband’s older brother, and Miranda is facing the urges of womanhood, and starts to flirt with the older man too, seemingly uncaring that this is her uncle, and may even be her father. Dully on the other hand still masturbates while watching women bathing the river, he seems unlikely to change his habits I guess.

If all this sounds very violent and disturbing then I should comment that in the beginning it’s all strangely charming in its own way. Far from horror or exploitation, it comes across as much more theatrical and silly, dare I say slightly campy. During the aforementioned rape scenes the victims seem rather resigned and ‘heigh-ho’ about it all, more sort of annoyed than scared. Similarly the scenes of Dully desperately jacking-off while gurning into the camera feel like they’re lifted from a 70’s documentary about naturism, as the pretty girls splash around and sing folk songs. It’s only as the film moves along into the middle and end parts that the internet rumours of explicit sex and unflinching horror become increasingly justified. It starts slowly and subtly enough, with Miranda sneaking onto the porch, just in Inocencio’s line of vision while he visits for coffee. Here she sits with a pale of water, hikes her skirt up to her waist and calmly starts to wash her thighs and rub herself, as Inocencio shifts uncomfortably but can’t take his eyes off her. Later, Dully steals her clothes while she bathes in the river, and Inocencio steals them back and gives him a row, returning them to Miranda and ogling her slim teenage body as she dresses (and encourages him to look). It would seem all thoughts of Dolores have left his mind as he becomes obsessed with this strange Lolita figure presented to him, and the film becomes far darker than we’re first led be believe.

I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot as the film is a scant 70 minutes, and I’ve only briefly described the first 30 or so. But the film moves into (even more!) surreal and darker territory as Granny Zulma sort of teams up with Dully and starts to practise witchcraft, spiking a human heart with a hat pin, and having her grandson/son urinate onto it for her evil purposes. In one of the films most arresting scenes we see Inocencio practising his own form of demon worship, and it’s a scene that really gave me goosebumps, involving an upside-down goat, furiously bleating it’s lungs out as the woodsman smears himself with blood and screams his own incantations. The moment we’ve all been waiting for comes in the last act, as Miranda is called into the kitchen, given the basket that Dully would normally take, and told to go through the forest and give the food to Granny (who at the this point is positively psychotic). There’s a terrific pan-in to Miranda’s face as she realises what it is she’s being asked to do, and she experiences a flashback to the last time she stayed at Granny’s – and it’s really the most controversial scene in the entire film, I can’t spoil it I’m afraid, but animal lovers will have mixed feelings about it...

I liked this film, even just for the unique feel of distressing otherworldliness it conjures, the fact that it finds humour in cruelty and revels in the extreme and intense images it creates. Certain scenes stick in the mind for days afterwards, such as Granny smoking a huge cigar while she peppers bloody human organs with ash. Or Inocencio’s vision of a teethed vagina biting his hand off, only to awaken in bed, screaming, turning to his statue of Christ which suddenly comes to life, just to stare the man down with a look that says, “what were you dreaming about, eh?” Above, I’ve described the acting as over-the-top, but that label is really for Dully (Raúl Capote) and Granny Zulma (Pancho García – yes it’s a guy in a dress) while the performances by Ana Silvia Machado and Roberto Perdomo as Dolores and Inocencio are finely tuned and impressive, and Dayana Legrá as Miranda/Red Riding Hood is simply excellent. Legrá plays Miranda at first as a child full of innocence, and then as an adult who displays such a range of intense emotions, and runs through such bizarre situations that by the last frame we’re stunned, but moved. The direction by Molina is consistently impressive, for an obviously low budget production the film has inventive camera work, and simple but fitting sets, making the most of the Cuban countryside and forests. The film doesn’t look cheap, which for a horror themed film featuring a monster with glowing red eyes called ‘Cagueiro’, is pretty impressive.

For some the last acts violence in Ferozz will come as a nasty shock, as the silly and the camp take a back seat to brutal scenes of murder and rape, but to me even these cruel scenes fit the amorphous and chameleonic nature of the film. Is it a fairytale? Is it a dark comedy or a horror film? A monster movie? Maybe it’s just all of the above, but it’s definitely an oddity.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Do you know if this movie is out in DVD? Can't find its theatrical release date nor any copy online. I really want to watch this now. Thanks.

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