Virus: 32 (2022)
⭐⭐⭐½ (3½ stars out of 5)
Virus: 32 (2022) Directed by Gustavo Hernández
It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, nor does it do anything surprising in terms of redefining the dynamics of the genre, however it is objective to say that it doesn’t try to accomplish that either, and that’s what convinces me to say that this Argentine-Uruguayan production has other multilateral ambitions outside and within the genre that manage to be effective in larger narrative dimensions. Virus:32 moves you into idiosyncratic territory at the expense of an energetic and easily digestible horror plot in entertainment, yet this film has an ace up its sleeve that makes everything imposingly engaging and intense…it stirs the mood with unstoppable and merciless violence that is monstrously juxtaposed with the indomitability of a feverish kinetic design that never fails to be functional. Director Gustavo Hernandez has more euphoria than a child on a sugar high, and his hyperactive, mischievous directional attitude only confirms it. The film uncompromisingly engages us in its labyrinthine cinematic configuration at an eye-catching but fascinating syntactical pace between its incessant mise-en-scène and its zigzagging camera movements, many of which are deceptive but artful sequence shots. Indeed, much of the dramatic construction of the narrative and much of the frontality of the fast-paced horror has a sly balance and personality thanks to the assured vital signs given by the directional versatility; the unabated use of pathos and the ineluctable manipulation of certain archetypal clichés of that characteristic coalescence of feelings as the characters struggle between life and death does not make it at all cyclical or absurdly contrived, rather it is a film that makes necessarily unrestrained use of those pragmatic utilities to never break the most intriguing scheme it has, and that is, vulnerable characters battling not only with materialized threats but equally with the traumatic.
Virus:32 follows the rules of ”zombie” cinema but with a more autonomous demeanor, it has a productivity that feels stylistically quite independent, and those qualities are expressly ubiquitous in every corner of this production. Having a script where you gather a gazillion genre predictabilities, it’s an obvious fact that the film sometimes confined to them, but the narrative is so specific with what it impetuously wants to accomplish that that intrinsic inevitability doesn’t seem to affect the serpentine dynamics of the plot in the slightest. A plot that forthrightly tells you there is nothing twisty or unexpected about it and by sheer logic we don’t expect anything out of the ordinary in the narrative sense.
The plot follows Iris (Paula Silva), a night guard who has to look after a sports club and one night is forced to take her daughter Tata (Pilar García) with her to work after forgetting that she was supposed to be in charge that day. During her shift, several figures begin to appear in the corridors in the dark and she hears on the radio the news of several attacks of what seems to be the living dead in the streets. At one point in the night, Tata disappears and Iris, in her desperation to find her, runs into Luis (Daniel Hendler), a stranger who knows in depth the origin of the infected and assures her that he knows where her daughter is. However, he proposes to her that she must first help him with his wife’s delivery and then he will tell her the whereabouts of her daughter. Although Iris accepts the deal, she will find a problematic situation: Luis’ wife is tied up, gagged, sweating and full of rage, which seems to be a sign that she is infected, which leads to a critical situation for Iris.
Contradictorily, although it has a rectilinear narrative that neatly follows a basic, unoriginal trajectory, the pulsating camera seems to obey other commands, making it satisfying to follow a conventional plot as something frightening and unanticipated. And the gripping, visceral performances coupled with the wayward visuals make an exceptional team, giving perpetual tension in key acts to generate rock-solid atmospheric interplay with the unruly design. The film doesn’t get bogged down in plot, nor does it have the decency to contextualize, yet that ”indecency” makes it all the more deliriously diverting, terrifying, and exciting.