MVD Visual: Punto Rojo (2023) - Reviewed

Images courtesy of MVD Visual

Argentinian action-oriented horror with a penchant for explicit transgressive violence and gore thanks to such recent sucker punchers as Terrified, Monos and most recently When Evil Lurks.  The most explosive form of new extreme horror since the emergence of South Korean and then Taiwanese horror, the Argentinian film scene is proving to be fertile ground for a new kind of shock thriller.  Enter action-comedy writer-director Nic Loreti best known for fighter crime comedy Diablo and his meta reinterpretation of Justice League with Kryptonite whose 2021 film Punto Rojo (not to be confused with the Netflix drama of the same name) is making its disc debut thanks to MVD Entertainment Group.  Somewhere between the hyperviolent comedy antics of his previous films and a plot twisting neo-noir with some startling developments ahead, Punto Rojo proves to be an edgy, at times absurdly over the top action thriller with more than a little nihilistic regard for the scenario in general.

Told in a Tarantino-esque structure of jumping from present to past and so forth, we meet brutal hooligan Diego (Demian Salomon the hero of When Evil Lurks) who bets on a racing club for Argentina’s greatest soccer teams.  Sitting in his car whiling away the time phoning in on the quiz show, a man in military uniform falls from the sky unto his windshield Collateral style followed by the arrival of a mysterious, tough and chiseled female secret agent named Paula (Mariana Anghileri from On the Third Day).  After confronting and handcuffing Diego while asking about a ruthless con man named Edgardo (Edgardo Castro) housing a secret that could change the whole of the American political landscape who just so happens to be bound and gagged in the trunk of Diego’s car, the battle is on between to the death between this unlikely trio.

A taut little nihilistic thriller boiled down essentially to three characters that more than serves up the hard near-unwatchable extreme violence fans of Argentinian horror are pining for, Punto Rojo is a rough and ragged ride that, again, feels a bit like an Argentinian Reservoir Dogs or Go with a fraction of both film’s budgets put together.  Largely a one-man show with writer-director-producer-editor doing most of the heavy lifting while Pablo Sala’s Junkie XL inspired score is suitably abrasive against the rugged yet picturesque widescreen digital cinematography by When Evil Lurks cameraman Mariano Suarez, the film looks and sounds appropriately gritty.  While ostensibly boiled down to only three main characters in the open desert with vast implications beyond the confines of the film, all three actors give strong performances with Demian Salomon as a stock-trade crook who gradually has to put up with prosthetic makeup effects and Mariana Anghileri channeling Jenette Goldstein in her tough female assassin.

A slick, bumpy and bloody ride that sneaks up on you with its brutal surprises and ornate camerawork, Punto Rojo continues in the direction set forth by When Evil Lurks in terms of pushing violence and gore in a standard genre thriller harder and farther than anyone previously thought possible.  While a neo-noir, the level of gruesomeness in this thing is such that it takes on the patina of a rough road movie ala Wild at Heart or more recently U-Turn.  Not everyone will take to its level of stark brutality or its plentiful nihilism, but fans of this burgeoning new world cinema movement will find more than enough fresh meat to sink their salivating fangs into.  The MVD release also includes an early short film from the director entitled Pinball which for some forecasts the thick, ropey streams of chum being thrown at the camera.

--Andrew Kotwicki