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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.14.14] Peru horror

One of Peru's biggest box office successes of the year is Daniel Rodríguez's The Womb; a bit of a surprise when you consider that Rodríguez's new movie also happens to be a horror movie. It's not a horror movie in the modern terms of the genre which relies heavily on everything from found footage and jump scares to gore, but rather in the traditional idea of a horror movie which is as much about the suggestion of bad things happening as it is about actually seeing those bad things.

Mayella Lloclla stars as Mercedes, an orphan who lives in a small town with her best friend and works at a local meat packing facility. It's difficult, menial work and when a local rich lady comes looking for someone to help her around the house, Mercedes jumps at the opportunity. Silvia (Vanessa Saba) appears to be nice enough; a woman who seems to be looking for help not just because she needs it but because she's lonely and the two women get on well enough to begin with. On the surface everything seems good but as Mercedes becomes better acquainted with the house and with Silvia, she begins to realize that there might be some weird stuff going on.

Things get really sour when Silvia discovers that the young woman is pregnant by the live-in handy man. Determined to keep the baby for herself, she makes it very difficult for Mercedes to leave, eventually locking the young woman in her room to ensure she doesn't escape.

Rodríguez's movie isn't exactly a ground breaking concept but The Womb stands out, first and foremost, for the way it looks. Rodríguez and cinematographer Julián Estrada take a standard horror set-up and deliver a movie that looks and feels like a drama that relies far more on the performances and reaction shots. That's not to say that the movie isn't without its share of blood. When necessary, Rodríguez is happy to deliver the goods but he holds back on the physical violence until the last possible moment and the result is far more effective because the rest of the movie is nearly completely devoid of blood.

I rather enjoyed Rodríguez's approach to the story which makes great use of music and editing to build tension and it helps that the director has a couple of fantastic performers in Mayella Lloclla and Vanessa Saba, particularly Saba who dominates the screen with an air of menace at nearly every turn. It certainly isn't new, groundbreaking work, it's fantastic to see a genre filmmaker emerge from Peru and one who shows this much talent. The Womb is entertaining and a really effective bit of horror.

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