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(aka "Atroz" )

 

directed by Fernando Barreda Luna
Spain/Mexico 2010

 

Distilled from thirty-seven hours of video footage shot over a period of five days (March 30, 2010 to April 3, 2010) by siblings Cristian (Cristian Valencia) and July (Clara Moraleda) Quintinilla while spending the Easter holidays with their father Santiago (Xavi Doz), mother Debora (Chus Pereiro), and younger brother Jose (Sergi Martin) at their long derelict country house in Sitges (recently fixed up by family friend Carlos [Jose Masegosa]). It is the perfect opportunity for the "urban legend" enthusiast siblings to explore the local "Girl on the Road" legend (which is not the same as our "Girl on the Bridge" urban legend). The gist of the story is that a young girl got lost in the Garraf woods in 1940 and was never found (it was rumored that she fell down a well). Travelers who find themselves in the woods at night will see her and she will show them the way. There are, however, many variations including the possibility that the girl is a demon or the devil leading travelers to their death. On their first day, they discover a set of gates that lead into an overgrown garden labyrinth with a strange altar and a well. That night, strange moaning sounds are heard from the woods that disturb their sleep. The next night, Cristian sets up a camera in night-vision to record the grounds from the upstairs window at night. The next morning, they discover that the family dog has disappeared. Cristian and July find it dead at the bottom of the well but do not tell their younger brother Jose, so he sneaks out that night to look for the dog which sends Debora, Cristian, and July (the latter two with their cameras, of course) into the labyrinth where they discover something far more "atrocious" than a silly urban legend. Shot in Spain by a Mexican crew, ATROCIOUS is another in the line of "found footage" horror movies - more in the THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT style, although likely inspired by the sub-genre's second wind with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - in which characters who are not combat photojournalists hold desperately onto their professional HD cameras even when they are running for their lives against possibly demonic forces. Fernando Barreda Luna and his crew found some wonderfully atmospheric locations and the unknown cast is fine overall (although only Valencia and Moraleda have significant screen time). The two actors also operated the handheld cameras and - as with even the lesser post-PARANORMAL ACTIVITY examples - a modicum of chills are elicited by the combination of searching cameras, dark environs, and our tendency to search out humanoid shapes in the shadows. Unfortunately, while THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT laid out its legend clearly from the outset and built on it with the accumulation of creepy props, visuals, and sounds (in spite of the meandering argument scenes), ATROCIOUS's urban legend falls by the wayside and gives way to the usual half-heard sounds, sudden loud crashes, night-vision running, frightened profanity, and so forth. There are also some annoying irrationalities: July unplugging the camera recording the woods at night makes no sense (compared to the throwing away the map bit in BLAIR WITCH), and the survivor's decision to follow a trail of blood into the basement from which strange noises are emanating - even though it is finally dawn - will have horror fans shouting "Hey, stupid!" at the POV. Unlike the recent EVIL THINGS, ATROCIOUS does explain what happened and it is disturbing despite the contrived manner in which it is revealed. Press materials tell us that the material was acquired by a production company and edited into a feature from thirty-seven hours of video, but all we see onscreen at the start is a Spanish police department screen that suggests it is a piece of evidence (and will have attentive audience members wondering about the various aesthetic choices supposedly made by the police technicians, including the title card, music stings during the intertitles, and the fast rewind bits book-ending the story proper. What you end up with is a film that has some good moments (and was actually made with enthusiasm and conviction, going by the making-of featurette) but doesn't really reward the repeat viewer. The producers of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS have picked up the US remake rights; however, American viewers need not worry about the original being held back as it is due out on DVD in the states in October.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 15 October 2010 (Spain) / 30 October 2010 (Mexico) / 17 August 2011 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Revolver Entertainment

Region 2 - PAL

Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:10:30 (4% PAL speedup) 1:13:30
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.52 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Revolver Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects)

 

Audio Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

Subtitles English (burnt-in) English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Revolver Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• The Shooting of ATROCIOUS (16:9; 14:13)

DVD Release Date: 19 September 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• The Shooting of ATROCIOUS (16:9; 14:14)
• Trailer (16:9; 1:41)
• Start-up trailers for BERLIN UNDEAD (RAMMBOCK), YELLOW BRICK ROAD, COLDFISH, and PHASE 7

 

DVD Release Date: 25 October 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Although the Vivendi disc lacks the PAL speed-up of the UK disc, it is an interlaced encoding. The Spanish 5.1 sounds similar to the import (the English 5.1 dub is pretty bland), but the optional English subtitle translation differs from the import. The making-of extra is the same as on the import, and is highly recommended viewing (after the feature, of course). The included trailer features an MPAA green-band R-rating card and the "Bloody Disgusting Selects" logo.

About the Revolver release: Since most of the footage was shot with the same Sony HDV prosumer cameras the actors are hand-holding onscreen, there are not a lot of attractive (or stable) images here, and the shaky camerawork (not the fashionable "shaky cam") and sometimes (intentionally) clipped blacks and highlights do not always adapt well to MPEG2 encoding (although I suspect a Blu-ray of this film would not be anyone's demo disc for their HD system either). While it's not always pretty, the look is in keeping with the amateur camerawork by the wannabe documentary filmmaker protagonists. The wide-angle distortion seems to be as much an aesthetic choice as a way to shoot at the widest aperture setting in mostly natural light.

The Spanish audio is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and 5.1 (which is odd since the film itself purports to be constructed from real found footage). The English subtitles are burnt-in and feature such British-isms as "I'm knackered," so these probably are not the subtitles seen on the festival screenings. An interesting "making of" featurette is included a lot of glimpses of unused footage as well as director Luna's methods for keeping his actors reactions fresh. He also reveals that the depth of the well was achieved using green screen (which is totally convincing in the film). This bit of trickery has me wondering how much of the look of the film was achieved in post-production. Refreshingly, the featurette comes across more as a companion piece to the viewing of the film rather than an EPK piece for circulation; as such, the surprise resolution is revealed casually by the director while discussing how he elicited the performances from the actors (none of whom had the final script pages which explained their fates).

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Revolver Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective (Bloody Disgusting Selects) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Revolver Entertainment

Sound:

Vivendi

Extras: Draw
Menu: Revolver Entertainment

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Revolver Entertainment

Region 2 - PAL

Vivendi Entertainment/The Collective
Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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