Although my choice for review today isn’t a horror film per se, one can definitely say that the life in the jungles of Colombia in the ’80s was something of a horror story. Corrupt officials and drug cartels kept cocaine and blood flowing, and the poor people were caught in the middle, as helpless as mice in a buffalo stampede, their police and government ill-equipped and ineffective.
It’s against this background that Josh C. Waller flings the formidable Zoë Bell in Camino, penned by Daniel Noah.
It’s 1985 — Avery Taggert is one of the hottest photographers in the biz, known for her fearless coverage of international hotspots, braving any danger to capture the truth in her shots. Perhaps the personal demons that haunt her are her motivation; regardless, after another successful assignment, her editor has yet another lined up for her — again somewhat perilous, and again, she accepts. She travels to Colombia, to tag along with a group of “missionaries”, the leader of which is Guillermo, a charismatic Spaniard calling himself “El Guero”, who has come to the conflicted South American nation to “bring medicines, food, and protection” to the people — oddly, it was even he who had requested the services of a photographer.
Traveling with them (her camera always snapping out it’s tell-tale click of posterity), she gets to know the rag-tag group; the naïve but friendly Sebastian…distant and intimidating Alejo…kindheardted Luna, “El Guero’s” cousin Tomas, and fanatical Marianna — all committed to the cause they serve, but with varying views on their leader. Taggert seems to find Guillermo a bit full of his own self-righteousness, but the kindness with which he treats the villagers they come across seems genuine enough — until she photographs him committing a heinous, horrible murder to cover up his true motivations for being in the jungle. This photograph puts her on the run from the obviously psychotic madman and his band of mercenaries…and it’s an all-or-nothing race.
This film covers some really dark places, not only in the setting of the canopied jungle, but the level of madness and avarice that Guillermo carries, as well as a deep-rooted emotional struggle within the character of Avery. The weight of the film rests on these two roles, really, and the performers come through with flying colors. Nacho Vigalando, as Guillermo, portrays a charming, sympathetic fanatic to us one moment, and a cold, ruthless, and completely sociopathic killer the next.
Zoë Bell really brings her acting chops to the table as Avery, giving us heartfelt emotion at times, self-loathing at others, and overall a very real and relatable character. Of course, this doesn’t mean she’s not up to her specialty of being a strong and amazing physical actress — the fight scenes and demanding narrative certainly demonstrate her skill and badass-ness, but the thing is that here she’s not playing an ass-kicker — instead, she plays a very believable woman who’s not wanting to fight, but desperate to survive…and willing to do whatever it takes to do so — I was very impressed with her performance across the board. The rest of the cast delivered the goods on their roles as well, but I kinda felt they were under-utilized; they wound up not meaning much to the overall tale other than some fleeting emotional tugs (and a couple of pretty good fights).
Waller made the most of the jungle setting, the lighting and angles turning the mass of foliage and beautiful streams into a labyrinth of shadows for the cat-and-mouse game that plays out. The script, while built around the core of a very simple idea, had enough meat on it’s bones to make the film one that I certainly don’t feel I wasted my time with.
So there you have it…not a horror film, really, but a very enjoyable watch. If any of you Fellow Fans out there decide to take a break from the monsters, slashers, guts and grue, you could do a lot worse than this story of a good woman with some regrets finding the good that’s still within her.
My two cents.
XLrator Media will be releasing CAMINO in Theaters on March 4th and on VOD and iTunes on March 8th.
JUST CLICK HERE
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