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“NECROPHOBIA 3D” (Fantastic Fest Movie Review)

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Odd duck, thy name is NECROPHOBIA.

Seriously.

Imagine a DARK HALF/RAISING CAIN-esque one-half-of-me-has-gone-very-very-bad split personality flick that employs an uber-melodramatic giallo-by-way-of-telenovela sensibility to tell the story—shot, inexplicably, in 3D—of a timid tailor plagued by a profound fear of dead bodies, who nevertheless constantly winds up ankle deep in viscera. You’ll have some idea of the legit nuttiness heading your way courtesy Argentinian director Daniel de La Vega (JENNIFER’S SHADOW).

We first meet the aforementioned seam-jockey Dante (Luis Machín) at the funeral for his recently deceased brother and from the jump, a neurotic tweak out is in full effect. No slow burn, no nuanced foreshadowing, just an in-progress necrophobia-induced nervous breakdown that quickly spirals into a straight up psychotic event after A) some tripped out hallucinations liven up the family mausoleum and B) Dante’s estranged wife picks the least apropos time imaginable to rub his nose in the break-up.

So are we to believe it is mere coincidence when in his broken state Dante soon thereafter begins to catch glimpses of a mystery man decked out like a shorter, stockier, way nerdier version of Zorro in the shadows? Or is there a sinister synergy waiting to be discovered as the bodies of friends and acquaintances who have slighted Dante in real or imagined ways start to turn up shot full of holes roundabout the size of industrial fabric scissors?

The film’s standard issue steely-eyed, unsentimental police detective answers “No” and “Yes” to those questions, respectively, and though the explication gets ridiculously convoluted, the film never provides any real reason to doubt her initial suspicions.

Red herrings, typically a staple of this sort of romp, are sadly sparse to nonexistent here.

Anyway, long story short—well, actually, short story shorter is probably more accurate; NECROPHOBIA clocks in at a lean seventy-five minutes despite its occasional flabby feel—the detective turns the heat up on Dante and we’re off to a mannequin and stage blood-festooned climax.

Alas, that sounds a lot more fun that it proves to be.

Which is to say, yes, thematically as well as stylistically NECROPHOBIA possesses a quirky/cool conceit. And, sure, promising sequences and striking images dot the filmscape. Trouble is, the film never quite conjures up enough humor, dread, or Argento-ish surreality to justify its tonal excesses or narrative flamboyance and, paradoxically, those things the film does do right ultimately serve only to highlight the surrounding tedium and degrade the experience further. (The excellent original score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti is, perhaps predictably, another story.)

Kudos to the filmmakers for taking an admirable swing at audacity, but NECROPHOBIA, while by no means terrible, fails to live up to its gonzo promise.

1.5_skull

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About the author
Shawn Macomber http://www.stopshawnmacomber.com
The ravings of noted South Florida pug wrangler Shawn Macomber have appeared in Decibel, Magnet, Reason, Maxim, Radar, Shroud, and the Wall Street Journal, amongst other fine and middling publications. He also hosts the podcast Into the Depths and pens the metal-lit column Tales From the Metalnomicon for Decibel magazine.
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