Believe it or not, this week’s pick is our first horror of 2023! With the exception of The Menu, possibly, depending on how you think of that film genre-wise. Interestingly, both titles feature food and murder, though there are significantly fewer things served au jus this week. Unless you go with a very gruesome interpretation of au jus.
A teen who witnesses the abduction of her bullies decides to keep quiet as a dangerous stranger lurks around her small town.
If you decide to watch this film, you have to be pretty comfortable with seeing how the sausage gets made–literally. Sara is a quiet young woman who works in the family butcher shop, constantly listening to music and chewing on her hair. Though she does her best to steer clear of bullies, Sara being awkward, fat, and associated with pigs makes for easy pickings.
Things don’t look much better at home, where Sara’s mother is quick to anger and her father imagines a good day hunting is enough to ease any troubles. Pushed by her mother to leave the house on a hot summer day, Sara goes swimming at the public pool when she notices a stranger lurking around. The small Spanish town is already on edge as a couple of mysterious disappearances have occurred recently, though Sara doesn’t have much time to consider this. Tormented by Maca, Roci, and her former friend Claudia, Sara is left without her phone and clothes, and comes close to drowning.
On her return walk home, Sara is harassed and chased by some of the local boys. She unknowingly walks into a crime scene when she notices the stranger from the pool…driving a van where her bullies are trapped. The stranger leaves a towel for her, and motivated partly by fear and partly by vengeance, Sara says nothing as the van drives away.
The following day, things look even more harrowing when the police discover the body of a missing waitress weighed down at the bottom of the pool. Questioned about anything suspicious she may have noticed while at the pool, Sara denies that she was ever there on the prior day.
Rousing the suspicions of many a local, Sara’s goal now is to retrieve her phone before her mother notices it’s missing. When a fight breaks out and Sara’s lies are brought to the surface, the police demand answers. Returning home with her mother after being questioned, a surprise visitor is waiting for them. Attacking both Sara’s mother and father, the stranger silently insists Sara must leave with him. What will be waiting in the mysterious hideout in the woods? And will it matter to Sara if a horrible fate has befallen her bullies?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
I like the concept of this film and appreciate its feminist messaging. However, there’s not enough going on to keep proceedings interesting, even with a relatively short run time. There’s much more commentary than empowerment, which is fine if not completely satisfactory.
Sara isn’t the most likeable person–and not in the compelling ways of some of our favorite horror film protagonists. She’s a victim of bullying and certainly doesn’t deserve this, but as a result is almost devoid of identity. Awkward and rather depressed, Sara tends to wallow rather than act for most of the film. I even found a major turning point near the end of the film to lack suspense and conviction, and it was difficult to understand what was going on in her mind. The failure to give Sara much interiority seems like a way to create suspense, but it mostly makes her seem shallow and severely lacking any kind of internal compass. One of the elements of suspense is created by whether Sara will help her bullies…or run away with an actual serial killer because he’s the only man who has ever been nice to her(?!?!). I can’t believe that’s a sentence I have to type unironically.
The movie posters and promotion promise significantly more badassery than we get, honestly.
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