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September 16, 2016

Sudor frío

by Franz Patrick


Sudor frío (2010)
★★ / ★★★★

Roman (Facundo Espinosa) and Ali (Marina Glezer) visit a dangerous neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Ali has set up a meeting with a blond guy she met in a chatroom, Ali knowing that he is the same person that Roman’s ex-girlfriend, Jacquie (Camila Velasco), is presumed to be seeing or dating. By meeting with him, Ali and Roman hope to learn more about Jacquie’s whereabouts given that it seems like she has disappeared off the face of the earth.

But Ali is in for a surprise. Once inside the house, she sees her chatroom friend. As she gets closer, she notices that he is tied up and one of his arms falls to the floor. Meanwhile, Roman waits in the car and begins to suspect that something is very wrong.

For a movie that mostly takes place inside a big house, “Sudor frío” is a bit of a surprise because it finds creative ways to entertain. While it is willing to take more than a handful of risks, the biggest gamble is in its choice of villain. While it is a fresh choice, I was not fully convinced that the antagonists are menacing or threatening enough to hold a candle against Roman and Ali. As a result, some scenes come off rather forced and it impedes the necessary momentum to pull an effective horror-thriller.

Because the antagonists are physically limited, the picture might have benefited if they had been written smarter. Instead, we are presented throwaway flashbacks about their history which barely have anything to do with the big picture. These are men who have continually lured, overpowered, and tortured women. They have to be intelligent and very careful to have avoided suspicion by their neighbors and the police.

Their endgame is not clear. Are the torture chambers simply there to serve as a playroom for their sick minds or is it there for a reason? The first thirty minutes suggests the latter but as the film goes on, it appears as though it no longer matters. The hiding and chases inside the nondescript abode take precedence over explaining or showing their motivations.

I enjoyed its use of close-ups. The villains’ weapon of choice is nitroglycerin, generously applied on their victim’s skin. If the woman moves too quickly or forcefully—in the act of trying to escape—the punishment is a quick but messy death. When the camera focuses on the skin, hair, or clothing covered with the dangerous chemical, it is highly uncomfortable. A different kind of horror is invoked; it is more intense than watching the characters running around the house or hiding in the shadows when their captor has entered the room.

“Cold Sweat,” directed by Adrián García Bogliano, is not the most engaging horror-thriller because it requires too many leaps of faith and it does not give a big enough return for our investment. Taking risks is a positive attribute but it really is a double-edged sword: when it works, what is shown on screen feels fresh but when it does not, it comes off trying too hard to be anything of value. At least it is never boring.

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