Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Bajo la sal (dir. Mario Munoz, 2008)

What can you say about a dark Lynchian thriller without giving too much away?

Perhaps not a lot.

But hey, you had me at "dark Lynchian thriller."

And Mexican dark Lynchian thriller, even better.

Bajo la sal translates as Beneath the Salt.

And that is where the body is found that sets the movie in motion.

Not unlike Laura Palmer "wrapped in plastic."

Why salt?

Guerrero Negro in Baja California Sur is home to the largest saltworks operation on the planet.

Salt is harvested from seawater at the rate of seven million tons per year.

Quite the visual setting for a mystery.

Director Mario Munoz and cinematographer Serguei Saldivar Tanaka shot in 2.35:1 widescreen to capture its full glory.

Nor is that all that's going on visually.

There are memorable stop-motion animation insert sequences, which are "diegetic" since they are being made by a character within the film.

A student who likes horror, and whose father is a mortician.

And who attends a high school with a decidedly creepy history.

I'll go no further on that point.

The movie also has an excellent sound design and uses its score by Federico Bonasso very effectively.

The cast does very well, especially Ricardo Polanco as the student film-maker, Irene Azuela as a threatened girl...

(You didn't think you could have a movie of this kind without a threatened girl, did you?)

...and Humberto Zurita (to the right in the above still) as the police comandante trying to make sense of it all.

The denouement is a bit below the level of the rest, but that is a typical hazard with thrillers.

Easier to pull off a great set-up than a great resolution.

Nonetheless, I offer an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the overall effect of the film.

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