Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fantastic Fest ’13: She Wolf

She is the horndog’s natural predator and she is racking up quite a body count.  It will be a tricky matter determining exactly who or what she is, but she is definitely out to teach the slimier men out there a permanent lesson.  The gender war hits the streets of Buenos Aires hard in Tamae Garateguy’s She Wolf (trailer here), which screens during the 2013 Fantastic Fest.

Just for the record, she is not affiliated with the SS.  She is a werewolf, who shifts her appearance, alternating between three seductress personas, or maybe she is a serial killer with multiple personalities.  It is hard to say definitively.  Sometimes people recognize her in her different guises and sometimes they don’t.  Either way, foreplay typically leads to a gruesome death for the men she ensnares.

The She Wolf is not out to kill all men—just the scummy would be players.  This will include the Tom Sizemore-esque undercover cop investigating her killings.  After their first encounter, he becomes rather obsessed with her, for several reasons.  However, the She Wolf falls for the punky punk who rescues her.

If you are easily offended by explicit sex, blood-spurting violence, gritty drug use, and black-and-white cinematography, then good luck with She Wolf.  There should definitely be an audience for it at Fantastic Fest, but it clearly appeals to the artier end of the cult film spectrum. Yet, despite some head-scratching moments, it somehow never feels pretentious. Frankly, it has a similar vibe to the sort of indie provocations that were filmed on the Lower East Side during the early 1980’s.  There are also plenty of naughty bits.

The raw ferocity of three actresses playing the She Wolf elevates the film well above seedy exploitative fare.  We see their rage and their vulnerability, often simultaneously.  Waifish Guadalupe Docampo’s every kill is shocking, whereas the voluptuous Luján Ariza certainly looks like she could be some sort of man-eater.  However, it is the more mature Mónica Lairana who really lays it on the line, especially in her bracing scenes with Edgardo Castro’s effectively sleazy copper.

There are rough edges all over She Wolf, but they are often (if not always) part of its aesthetic. Not nearly as didactic as it sounds on paper, She Wolf is an intriguing (and mostly successful) variation on the werewolf and serial killer genres.  Recommended for more sophisticated horror fans, it screens again this coming Tuesday (9/24) at the Alamo Lakeline, as part of this year’s Fantastic Fest.  For patrons in Austin, The Apostle, Big Bad Wolves, Confession of Murder, R100, and Timecrimes are also recommended, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.