Monday, August 27, 2018

Macabro ’18: Hostile

Call and raise—that is the name of the game in genre filmmaking. It is no longer sufficient to be stalked by a serial killer while trapped in confined space. However, if you make it a zombie doing the stalking, you might be in business. Basically, it is like a post-apocalyptic take on Curve and ATM, because those films were so awesome the first time around. However, there is the novelty of a few nice performances in Mathieu Turi’s Hostile (trailer here), boasting the imprimatur of Xavier Gens as executive producer, which screens during the 2018 Macabro in Mexico City.

Juliette is a survivor, but that does not necessarily mean she is one of the lucky ones. She scours the post-apocalyptic wasteland scavenging food and supplies for her unseen rag-tag colony of human remnants. The zombie-mutant thingies are out there, but she is not supposed to engage. Unfortunately, a freak accident puts her in a world of hurt. Her leg is broken and her capsized land rover is a prime target for the zomthing that comes shuffling along. Inconveniently, the undead humanoid monsters are pretty spry and fleet of foot this time around.

As Juliette digs in for the siege, the film flashes back to scenes from her earlier life when she first met and commenced a relationship with her husband Jack, a wealthy French expat gallerist. It was a rocky start, due to her heroin addiction, but he helped her through it (only to have the world end on her later). Yet, weirdly enough, it is those relationship scenes that really work in Hostile, whereas the cat-and-mouse business with the zombie feels very been-there-done-that.

Still, experienced genre viewers should always take what they can get. In this case, it is the surprisingly effective chemistry shared by Brittany Ashworth and Gregory Fitoussi. Ashworth does a nice job showing us how damaged Juliette is, as well as her strengths. Fitoussi also plays Jack cool and sophisticated, but still acutely human. Together, they both make the audience feel rather sad that the world just up and ended like it did.

Without being too spoilery, we are duty bound to warn viewers Hostile ends with a ludicrous howler. Turi does his best to lay the emotional groundwork for it, but the sheer unlikeliness of the circumstances makes it a real head-shaker. Nevertheless, the work of Ashworth and Fitoussi deserves some notice. Hostile is recommended for festival patrons who can appreciate its merits and roll with its weaknesses, when it screens this Wednesday (8/29) and Saturday (9/1), as part of this year’s Macabro.