CamdenNewJournal

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Undergods – a haunting premonition of a broken world

14 May, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Odd and dreamlike – Undergods

UNDERGODS
Directed by Chino Moya
Certificate: 15
☆☆☆☆

This is a gloriously odd film, and has a really unabashed feel about it – which makes it inadvertently feel real and true, and even more haunting.

The landscape is laid out from the start, as we meet two scrappily dressed men in frozen conditions, who are throwing a dead body, found rotting on a wintry pavement, into the back of an already-full van.

Set in a near future, in an Europe that is a pale imitation of its past, this is a scary-looking premonition of a broken world.
We then are launched into the dreamlike and surreal atmosphere that pervades throughout. Body collector K (Johann Myers) tells his colleague Z (Geza Rohrig) about a strange dream haunting him.

Located in an almost fully deserted tower block, a man flits about empty rooms. Ron (Michael Gould) is also haunted by nightmares – and who wouldn’t be in these circumstances? We meet him via a close-up of a congealed ready meal he and his wife Ruth (Hayley Carmichael) are spooning into their scurvy-touched mouths.

When his “neighbour”, Harry (Ned Dennehy), arrives on their doorstep asking for help, things get tense. They live in an empty, yet-to-be-finished block of flats and are the only tenants – but Harry claims to live on the 11th floor and is locked out of his flat. They invite him in. You sense this may be a bad move.

The story then jumps across to introduce Hans (Eric Godon), a flashy-looking businessman, who has a scam he wants to pull, and then a final piece that tells the story of Rachel (Kate Dickie) and her husband Dominic (Adrian Rawlins). Rachel’s former beau re-appears after a 15-year hiatus in a ravaged other world – and re-ignites old passions.

Director Chino Moya has married an excellent narrative with strong performances. But above all it’s the great production that elevates this: locations, set designs, make-up and costumes that really add another layer to make good stories brilliantly watchable.

The look of the characters is well crafted – they all have a pallor about them that telegraphs their fragile mental state. It’s an interesting trick and adds weight to the performances.

Undergods feels like a timely film for a post-pandemic time, a reminder of how dark futures can be imagined.

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