Let’s go to Argentina.
Luciferina is a new Argentinian horror flick from director Gonzalo Calzada, who has become a bit of a gem for the nation. His film Resurrection (2015) is the country’s highest grossest horror film ever. Knowing this, I was quite excited to give this one a run.
Sadly, my excitement waned almost immediately.
The CGI in this film is bad, and by bad I mean on par with SyFy made-for-TV-crap-film bad. Now, I get that horror doesn’t have the best access to technology, and good CGI is mind-numbingly expensive. However, this film chooses to use full CGI scenes (more than once), and these scenes look like PS3 graphics.
We follow a young nun named Natalia, who returns home after her mother dies. Once she arrives, she discovers her mother had lost her mind, made bizarre art, and attacked their father (who is now bordering on comatose). There is a mystery as to what happened, and Natalia begins experiencing strange visions.
The story set-up fine, but the characters are simply terrible. Angela, Natalia’s sister refuses to give any information, and appears to be a drug addict. Worse, Angela’s friends are the types of people who a) would never really be friends, and b) total shitbags.
Angela’s abusive boyfriend Mauro should have not been in the film. An early scene where they are all taunting Natalia about being a virgin (because apparently that happens) ends with Mauro hitting Angela and joking about sexual assaulting Natalia. He tries this again later, and there isn’t really a purpose to any of this. It adds nothing to the story, and the entire purpose of his arc seems to be to inflate an already bloated running time.
Most of the characters are pointless, but Mauro gets the prize for being the most pointless. Shoving in sexism and misogyny (in a film that handles feminine sexuality poorly anyway) is a feature of horror that should be left in the past. The most infuriating part is that every single one of his scenes could be removed and it would have no impact on the story. The same can be said for all of Angela’s friends (minus one), and arguable Angela herself.
The mystery built is complicated, but not due to a multifaceted story. We aren’t given enough information as the audience, and the filmmaker’s seemed to notice this problem as we are given a nearly thirty-minute info dump towards the final act of the film. The info dump is problematic for obvious reasons, but it also makes the running time seem even worse. The film is about two hours, but it should have been 70 minutes, at most. Nearly half of the scenes could be entirely removed and the same experience would remain.
The few interesting visuals and decent practical effects don’t make up for an overall empty story. We can’t connect to any of the characters as they are either assholes or pointless. Even Natalia basically just stares at what is happening with little interaction to the world around here.
I do suppose Natalia does something, when she sexorcises the devil out of a young man. Yep, I said that right. She fucks the devil out of someone. If you think that sounds interesting—it isn’t. It is stupid, clumsy, and the film isn’t sophisticated enough to actually make an argument about sexuality. I found myself wondering what the whole point of this was, and it never really revealed itself. Nothing makes a lot of sense, and so many features of the narrative have no meaning. Even Natalia being a nun didn’t really matter, she could have been a fast-food worker or a mechanic and nothing would have changed.
The film ends with sequel bait, and this should annoy everyone. Films that automatically assume they are going to get a sequel piss me off (I don’t include Marvel in this because Marvel films have enough backing to be confident). There is no reason to assume that this pseudo-intellectual horror will gain traction, or yield enough interest to get a sequel. If it does, cool (I guess), but if it doesn’t the fans are left without decent closure.
There are many better indie horror films to watch. Skip this one.