Runtime: 132 minutes
Written and directed by: Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles
Actors: Barbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Thardelly Lima, Ruben Santos, Sonia Braga, Udo Kier
By Erica Richards
I think I successfully summarized my immediate thoughts on this film in one simple tweet, “BACURAU is nucking futs!” If that isn’t enough to make you want to seek out this film–I don’t know what else to say. But, obviously that does not give it enough justice, so here is my full review. I added “Bacurau” (2019) to my list a while ago, and I cannot pinpoint why or how exactly. I know I had come across a tweet or a review of someone I respect, and they were highly recommending the film. I made note of it and then forgot. There was not much buzz about this again until more recently.
The gritty setting amongst characters who are just trying to survive–not from zombies, but from the rich and the structural damage of society.
For the first 45 minutes or so–I continuously asked myself “what is happening here?” and “where is this going?” never really knowing for sure what I was watching. We all know that could mean two different outcomes for the second half of the runtime. The narrative either grabs on and takes off to accomplish what it has spent time setting up to do, or it fails and loses the viewer. “Bacurau” absolutely succeeds in its efforts, and I truly have never seen anything quite like it. It slowly builds suspense and doom without being scary and then, suddenly–it is absolutely terrifying.
At times, “Bacurau” reminded me of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The gritty setting amongst characters who are just trying to survive–not from zombies, but from the rich and the structural damage of society. We see an educated, well-off woman return to her hometown, a fictional place in Brazil, but still accurate and relevant. She brings a suitcase full of medical supplies, labeling her as an outsider but still fully embraced by her people. The town is deserted and poor, lacking essentials needed to survive. The first thing that happens when she returns is her village gathering for a funeral, mourning the loss of a well-loved member of the community. This feeling of community is strong, and is a dominant theme throughout and then it ends up as the cherry on top in the final moments.
I really don’t want to give too much away, which is difficult with this film to attempt to discuss it without giving spoilers. Basically, the town is suffering a water shortage and must travel out to fill tank trucks with water, which is often shot at on the return to the village. This all stems from the lack of support from the Mayor, who is also at this time seeking re-election. At the same time, random murders begin to happen and when it is unveiled why the killings are happening and who is responsible for them, your jaw will be on the floor. The utopian way the murderers infiltrate the town will have you feeling like you are watching a video game happen in real life. It is chilling and disturbing, I was tense and literally on the edge of my seat. Seek this out and you will understand my possibly incoherent ramblings. This film is innovative in the unraveling and I appreciate the time it devotes to setting up the story. I think originally I gave this film a 3.5/5 stars, and after sitting on it for some time, I am changing it to a solid ⅘ stars. You wont be able to shake BACURAU from your mind long after the credits roll.