Scherzo Diabolico (2015) - The description on the box pales to the actual film. Described as "Tired of his nagging wife and his dull existence as an underappreciated employee, seemingly mild mannered Aram snaps after he is passed over for a well-deserved promotion. Suddenly and menacingly asserting his long reserved power, he devises a plan to kidnap a schoolgirl and keep her tied up in an abandoned warehouse in order to finally get what he feels he is owed. But what seems like a perfect plan soon unravels into his worst nightmare."
It sounds good if a bit creepy and possibly horribly twisted in a control sexual power way. The thing is though this is not that movie. It is more like Falling Down (1993) where for most of the film you think it is just about a guy that snapped but it is really much more deeply disturbing where the road to the final acts have been paved for quite a while. In that film the antics are exaggerated as the Michael Douglas character weaves his way through LA but it is all about his decline. It shares with this film in that at the turn we learn that the motivations of the main character are not exactly as the film is sold. Still this film is different in that it ends up being about the unforeseen consequences of the main characters actions. That the depth of the plot is greater than it is originally portrayed. It is going to be difficult to review this film without ruining the turn and where that leads but I will do my best to do it spoiler free.
I am a fan of Director Andrián García Bogliano. When I had my old twitter account we followed each other and I look forward to renewing that twitter relationship with the new account. Since I cleared my account for this current experiment. He is a great writer and director already with a roster of films as strong as any professional working in genre. Rooms for Tourists (2004), Cold Sweat (2010),We are What we Are (2010), Penumbre (2011) with its absolutely stunning ending, and the remarkable Here Comes The Devil (2012). He also directed the recent Nick Demici vehicle Late Phases (2014), all very solid entries and I look forward to getting each new entry in Adrián's resume.
In this film he gives us a scary look into the beta male psyche and shows how being powerless warps healthy interactions in the world. In this case the main character Aram (Francisco Barreiro) is pressured by his wife (Milena Pezzi) to do more with his life. He works as and accountant and is a bit of a push over, working long hours saving his boss's hide only to be overlooked and under appreciated. This powerlessness is presented to the audience with a series of interactions setting the character up as a bit of a loser who is unhappy with this life. His boss Licenciado Sosa (Jorge Molina) telling him how much he is appreciated in one minute and then in the next telling him he will not be paid for the overtime he worked is just perfect. Then we get to see that maybe Aram has more too him than we first thought. There is a plan he is working on. We see him studying a schoolgirl walking home tracking her time in each section of her walk. In a series of scenes we realize he is planning to kidnap this girl. This being a genre film we expect this is the character exercising what little power he has in a psycho sexual way. He will have control over someone he sees as weaker and thus feel empowered while all around him in the rest of his life he is giving ground. These expectations though are deftly thrust upon the audience only to be turned in a surprising new direction.
Women are intricate to the plot of this film, from the pressuring wife who is not the most positive female stereotype. Unsatisfied with her husband inability to do more with his life, her dissatisfaction plays out with a coldness and lack of intimacy. A male excuse for misbehaving men since the first women's movements in the 1800's it is not this reviewer's favorite presentation. Lack of intimacy and denied physical contact drives our male lead though and sets us up that he may have the heinous idea of kidnapping a high school girl. Forming in our minds that he is a certain kind of sicko. We see through a series of scenes, one rather shocking one of his preparation always calming himself as he goes by listening to the piano classic the Mephesto Waltz. Later we see Aram getting advice on how to bind someone from a prostitute he sees on the side and so we see he through these early scenes what he is planning how it is being ritualized. She is emblematic of how the powerless male seeks a place where he is in charge, paying for the right to do as he pleases with her body. Still I thought it was telling that he took a passive position during the sex with her on top and in control. Later when he thinks he has won we see a very different approach with his new secretary. Our captured girl Anabela (Daniela Soto Vell) once captive is held and to an extent mistreated but for her the experience changes her from an innocent child to a revenge driven adult. She is shocked with a taser repeatedly as a way to pacify her and it hardens her. She becomes a very damaged woman all so a male can feel empowered.
When the crime is committed and Aram has this young woman we see more than a man's desire to control a woman, although he is mistreating her there is something else going on too. He is has some reasons we are yet not privy to. Tasering her to get here to beg for her life on camera, having her strip and filming her naked body. They are acts that could fit the sicko profile but he is disturb by his own behavior. Is this the reaction a non alpha man would have? There are hints along the way to what the real motivation is but still the turn is hidden well enough to make it a good plan when it is revealed.
Aram after successfully executing his plan is a changed man. Now the man who is in charge at his work he is becoming the alpha he always wanted to be. His wife likes his success and he is more attractive to the ladies in the office. Through inter cut scenes we see that success for Aram means an affair with a coworker, his wife's renewed interest, but no more visits with his prostitute since he now has all he desires.Still there is a disturbing truth about this man. He keeps the images and the video of the girl he used to gain what he has, that marks the need to see and feel the control all over again even after he has apparently won. He is still a beta male hiding beneath the skin. While juxtaposed with the recovery of the girl and her family. Everything he did appears to have great benefits for him but the girl struggles to deal with an ordeal that has scarred her deeply and torn her family down. They are never going to be the same and again we are reminded what a small man Aram really is, willing to sacrifice others for the allusion of success.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back.. It really is an experiment and where I love the
community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people
involved in it. I am now following over 160 people while the
followers is only 23 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow
just anyone back. :)