|release date||July 13 2011|
|studio||Bloody Disgusting Selects|
|starring||Daniel Hendler, Federico Luppi, Jazmin Stuart, Jose Guridi|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his pregnant wife, Pipi (Jazmin Stuart), like to argue. A lot. In fact, they bicker so much that they’re completely oblivious to the apocalyptic frenzy that has broken out around them. With people racing around town with shopping carts full of supplies and abandoned, smoking cars lining the streets, nothing seems to break them away from their discussion of whether or not they should shop like a hoarder at Costco when buying light bulbs from the local market. But when the authorities quarantine their apartment complex later that night due to a viral outbreak in one of the units, the couple moves from being nonchalant to mildly concerned, taking an inventory of their supplies so they can pace themselves.
In the beginning, that’s the only precaution they take. Not as frustrated with not being able to contact the outside world or leave their building as they should be, the couple’s boredom starts to become their primary focus as they spend their time trying to find new TV shows and playing electronic Battleship while Coco experiments with different facial hair styles. As the days go on and the residents become more violent and scared of infection, Coco begins exploring the building with Horacio (Yayo Guridi), who walks around in a hazmat suit and believes that the New World Order has manufactured this virus to control the population – aka Fase 7.
Admittedly, writer/director Nicolás Goldbart’s exploration of the human condition and how rapidly society declines when the world begins to change around it isn’t anything new; in fact, I feel like I saw the same exact scenario play out in The Divide just a few days ago. What separates Fase 7 from its counterparts is its approach, which is equal parts French absurdist humor and claustrophobic tension – interesting, considering it’s an Argentinian film. The juxtaposition of the pointlessness of Coco and Pipi’s arguments going on inside of the apartment versus the deadly serious happenings going on outside serves as a rift in Coco’s reality; he fully lives in neither situation, which makes him a passive coward that doesn’t take control of his domestic issues or fate.
Hendler gives a fine performance as the lead, though it’s his neighbors that keep the film entertaining. While Horacio is rapidly spitting out humorous and often vulgar one-liners whenever he’s on screen, it’s Federico Luppi (Cronos) as Zanutto who is the physical manifestation of the virus, slowly assuming control of the building with militant, violent tactics. All of this comes to a head as they have an impressive shoot-out in a dark garage, lit only by glow-sticks and gunfire.
Fase 7 works as a dark, apocalyptic comedy because it accepts its threat as being real as the situation progresses. Although its basis is deeply rooted in a conspiracy theory that began in the early twentieth century, anyone watching doesn’t need to be well-versed in Red Scares of the 40s and 50s and the development of internationalism to appreciate what Goldbart is getting at; in fact, very little exposition is actually given. Pulsating with the synth sounds of early Carpenter flicks, Fase 7 might not be the ultimate post-apocalyptic tale, but its performances and sense of humor make it worth a watch.