Horrifying and Fun (Review: BACURAU)
There are some films for which I wish my review could just be, "Just watch it." Directors Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendoça Filho present a fantastically wild ride with BACURAU, a film that I've found is very difficult to describe without crossing into spoiler territory. But oh well, here's my attempt.
When Teresa (Bárbara Colen) returns to the remote village of Bacurau, Brazil for her grandmother's funeral, everything is as she look left it: the tight-knit community bonds through open windows and a distinct lack of resources, having to transport water in on a truck since the water has been turned off. A visit from the current mayor, Tony, Jr (Thardelly Lima), who is soon up for reelection, shows the level of corruption and circumstance that he brought upon the village, having seemingly shut off the water at some point. He brings books and food to the village -- books that he dumps onto the ground with a forklift, and food that has expired -- and promises they won't regret it if they reelect him.
Throughout the film's meandering opening, we delve into Brazilian culture and meet the key members of the community, including Domingas (Sônia Braga), the alcoholic doctor of the village, and Pacote (Thomas Aquino), who either has a bloodthirsty past or is part of some video game or film series that depicts violence -- the film is never clear on that point.
It begins when one of the villagers sees a drone following him on the street. Then, cell service starts going on the fritz, and the village can no longer be found on Google Maps. And then, two strange bikers show up, just "passing through". The villagers know something strange is happening, and their suspicions will soon be confirmed... I won't ruin the surprise, because that is what is fun about this movie -- the premise comes out of nowhere, and being caught off guard is actually part of the thrill -- but suffice it to say, there is a lot of blood, and a lot of thrilling disbelief for the majority of the second half of the film. In the midst of this madness, the people of Bacurau realize that they are alone, but they are together -- and they must stand and fight for their survival.
Teresa may be the character who introduces us to this remote village, but she doesn't really hold our attention as a protagonist. There are so many characters vying for focus on the screen, and so many off-the-wall plot points, that Teresa ends up just being there for most of the film. But despite its inability to maintain its initial protagonist, the film settles in for an ensemble story that will keep you engaged right to the end. It is clear that the directors had a lot of fun making this movie, continuously raising the stakes in such a bizarre scenario.
What a fun, intriguing, horrifying, surprising, and overall enjoyable film. If you're looking for something to remove you completely from the world you're in at the moment, BACURAU is definitely the watch for you.