SXSW 2011 Review: COLD SWEAT

Brian Kelley

by: Brian Kelley
March 16th, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Writers: Adrián García BoglianoRamiro García BoglianoHernán Moyano
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Cast: Facundo EspinosaMarina GlezerCamila VelascoOmar Musa

There is a moment in COLD SWEAT where the stakes are raised exponentially in a matter of seconds. This comes shortly after a minimal and effectively mysterious setup and just before one of the best death scenes committed to film in some time. The rest of the movie is a series of game changing moments peppered with genuinely funny bits, horror-tinged action sequences, and nearly-unbreabale suspense. Combined with inspired direction, these elements make COLD SWEAT best described as a "psuedo-arthouse horror-action-comedy music video".

Roman's ex-girlfriend Jacquie is missing. Helping him locate her via an IP trace is his good friend Ali. Together they narrow down her location to an ominous looking building where Roman's believes Jacquie is being held by the blond boy with whom he had seen her chatting online. Ali makes it inside and promptly finds herself in trouble. When Roman enters the gigantic home to search now for both her and Jacquie, he stumbles upon a terrifying scene (the aforementioned stake-raising moment) and realizes they have stumbled into something dark and sinister. As the duo fights to make their way out of the home, each minute seems to hold a new, disturbing, and wild threat.

COLD SWEAT plays loosely with its core concept to maximum effect. The film is not overly concerned with physics or any other matter of science and because it establishes this early on (via the aforementioned fantastic death scene, the first of the film), it earns license to be as crazy as it wants to be. Each element can be traced back to some sort of influence but combined together present something fresh. For example, there is a hair-raising scene where a character must move something very dangerous, very slowly and across very complicated terrain. This scene brilliantly pays homage to Friedken's SORCERER but does so in a way that is unique to the COLD SWEAT style. There's a noticeable lack of backstory which ultimately works to the film's advantage. Enough is given to contextualize the goings-on, but the vast majority of the film exists in the single location, forcing things to be sharply focused.

Director Adrián García Bogliano keeps COLD SWEAT moving at a furious pace and, accompanied by a bombastic and memorable score, many of the film's best set pieces (including some scenes full of simply breathtaking slow motion photography) feel impossible on what must have been a small budget. The actors are all able to pull off a delicate balance set up early on in the film, it's both horrific and slyly humorous throughout. Without a cast that understands this, many of the witty character beats would have fallen flat. Where the film may lose some along the way is in the finale, where the culmination of all the sometimes absurd buildup will either peak or bottom out depending on the viewer. Based on the strength of the film, though, most people should find the climax hilarious, exciting and fulfilling.

COLD SWEAT is the best kind of genre film. It is not shy about lovingly utilizing tropes from its various influences, but it stitches them together into a fresh new patchwork. The opening of the film establishes a clearcut political subtext, but it drives the story subtly rather than pounding home a message. More than anything else, COLD SWEAT is fun, a superb audience-pleasing film made by someone who knows the genre and truly cares for it. COLD SWEAT feels like where the state of indie horror filmmaking should be and comes highly recommended.

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