Friday, August 21, 2015

Macabro ’15: Cord

It turns out the looming Armageddon is considerably more miserable than Mad Max let on. Sure, food, potable water, and fuel are all scarce, as are dubious luxuries like hope and culture. To make matters far worse, nobody is getting any. Due to the nature of the doomsday pathogen, survivors have a deep-seated cootie phobia. Instead of anything physical, they seek the services of tinkerers who hook them up for some electronically enhanced auto-eroticism. Yet, despite their better judgement, a dealer and his latest customer take matters offline in Pablo González’s English language production, Cord (trailer here), which screens as part of the science fiction and fantasy sidebar at the 2015 Macabro, the International Horror Film Festival in Mexico City.

For enough canned goods, Czuperski will wire you up to a contraption that looks like no fun at all. However, his latest breakthrough is the real deal. It is so potent, he is convinced only women will be able to handle it. Tania the sex addict is willing to volunteer. It turns out to be as good as advertised. In fact, it is so satisfying, she still comes back for more, even after he copped a feel at the moment of truth. Remember, that constitutes a titanic breach of decorum in this dingy, hermetically sealed era. Nevertheless, Tania and Czuperski soon decide combining his implant stimulation with old school physicality produces a heck of a result.

Yes, Cord is basically a post-apocalyptic 9½ Weeks, but there is absolutely nothing sexy about its wired-up bumping and grinding. Seriously, Concerned Women of America should distribute copies in schools, because it will scare even the horniest teens celibate. You feel like a tetanus shot after watching it, which is actually quite a testament to production and set designer Nuria Manzaneda’s gritty, groody low fi creative work.

Even at a mere sixty-five minutes, Cord often repeats itself. Nevertheless, Christian Wewerka’s Czuperski truly commands the screen, while turning the mad scientist stereotype on its head. He is totally flinty and vinegary, yet also strangely vulnerable. As Tania, Laura de Boer is stuck playing a lot of When Harry Met Sally diner scenes. She is more than adequate to the task in that respect, but her character remains comparatively under-developed. Of course, you can hardly blame Czuperski for being attracted to her. If she is not technically the last woman on Earth, she is close enough.

Cord is nearly a two-hander, confined entirely to one set. Perhaps it would have benefited the film if González had opened it up more. While some points are driven home with compulsive thoroughness, there is no denying the power of Wewerka’s performance and the bleakness of González’s vision. It is an interesting film, despite and because of its flaws, but its subject matter and running time will make it quite the programming challenge, so intrigued viewers who happen to be in Mexico City with a little free time on their hands should see while they have the chance. It screens this Sunday (8/23) and Monday (8/24), as part of the Macabro Fantastico section at this year’s Macabro.