Saturday, May 12, 2012

#132: Genesis (Nacho Cerda, 1998)

Last March, I reviewed Nacho Cerda's infamous short film Aftermath and was impressed by his shot composition, camera placement, use of sound, his ability to tell a story without using any dialogue, and his first name, which calls to mind the delicious, high-cholesterol snack we all love so much. Those strengths are also present in Genesis, another short film, conveniently located on the same DVD as Aftermath. I'm a Cerda fan based on these two shorts, but I'm also a little wary. Genesis is a bit less impressive than Aftermath, with some overstylization, hints of pretense, and slightly less effective use of its lack of dialogue. What seemed daring in Aftermath is sometimes a diminished return in Genesis, although I wonder how I would have reacted if I'd seen the films in reverse order.
Aftermath puts a lot of people off, with its clinical gore and corpse-fucking, but Genesis is a kinder, gentler piece. Both a horror film and a love story, Genesis begins with Super-8 footage of one of those long summer day parties, with lots of booze, food, and goofing off. The footage concentrates on a particular couple, kissing and clowning around for the camera. Cerda then does some ominous stuff with sound and image manipulation and soon we're in an artist's studio. Some time has gone by, how much we never really know. The artist is a sculptor and he's the same man from the Super 8 footage. Something bad has happened to his partner, but we're only given this information from her absence and nightmares about a mangled vehicle. The man is sculpting her image and is almost done. Soon, physical transformations begin in both the sculpture and the man.
It's hard to write a full-length post about a 30-minute film, especially after already writing about a different Cerda short. The techniques in both films are so similar. There is a slicker sheen overlaying Genesis, and the dream sequences have that annoying, modern Hollywood quick cutting, but Cerda primarily sticks to his strengths. He finds some amazing images, and the lack of dialogue has a way of concentrating an audience's eyes and ears on detailed image and sound. It's a good-looking movie, and its romantic heart nevertheless finds room for plenty of creepiness.
 Nacho Cerda was born in 1969 in Spain. Besides his short films, he directed the feature The Abandoned in 2006. He's currently at work on a feature adaptation of French horror comic I Am Legion, a World War II-set film about Nazis attempting to use vampires to win the war. Cerda was once accused of making the infamous alien autopsy video beloved by dumb conspiracy theorists. That rumor was later proven untrue when the actual director came forward.
Wow, this may be my shortest review ever.

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