Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia directs Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan and Zorion Eguileor in this Spanish sci-fi thriller where a man volunteers to experience a brutalist prison / social experiment where a banquet of food is lowered down the centre of a tower of inmates everyday.
The first half an hour of this actually won me over. The minimalist paranoia of Cube and the class consciousness of Snowpiercer. The mechanics of the trap are laid out to us by an untrustworthy source. Zorion Eguileor, wise but petty, hammers out a neat little sinister performance from reams of exposition. The problem is we meet nobody quite as fascinating when we leave his level and the writers prefer on-the-nose political allegory over action. The film has bursts of violence and is consistently nihilist but in a distasteful, obviously button pushing way. Instead of giving us extreme adventure, they go for bad vibes satire. I’m not even sure that the final act of defiance has any logic or sense to it. It is an ending separated and lost from the less pretentious first half’s strengths. Allegedly the script started off as fringe theatre and sadly the naivety and delusions of that brand of media are often left in place of the exciting potential of the cinematic high concept.
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