★★★★ out of ★★★★★
If V/H/S was done in Spanish, that would be Apps, a Chilean horror anthology that is filled with plenty of shocks and bloody mayhem. Each chapter is really well executed and continues to prove that Patagonia is a major player in the horror movie market.
Sandra Arriagada, Camilo León, Lucio A. Rojas, José Miguel Zúñiga, and Samot Marquez.
Honestly, I wish the title was better. Apps (2021) didn’t sound on the surface particularly interesting, but boy was I wrong! This anthology production executes four short stories (and a wraparound) with beautiful verve and violence. It would definitely rank among the best anthologies I’ve seen in a long while, along with XX, Southbound, and particularly the V/H/S franchise, which knows a thing or two about the horrific power of a well-told anthology short.
The wraparound “Date Freak” isn’t particularly interesting, until the end when it concludes the whole book. Clara Kovacic is a lovely woman bathed in magenta light using her Tinder-like dating app searching for the right man and stumbles across news wire articles on her phone that lead into the other stories. Her story has a fun unexpected winking twist at the end, but as connective tissue goes… it’s rudimentary.
“Manada” is the first short out of the gate, and it starts with a bang. Berny (Fernanda Finsterbush) and Elisa (Ignacia Uribe) are two college girls who have been invited to a party in a remote warehouse by Berny’s boyfriend, Nacho (Manuel Castro Volpato), and his drunken pals. The party looks to be a party for seven, and it turns out that Berny and his buddies have nefariously planned this to get Elisa on Rohypnol and film themselves raping her in an extreme porn streaming app… and get paid a pretty penny to do so. Unbeknownst to the boys, Elisa is a Riddick-like nocturnal killing machine, and well, let’s just say the filming doesn’t go according to plans. You know there is going to be mayhem when a fire-ax is prominently displayed in the opening five minutes of the short.
“Frecuencia” involves a spying app that a young man, Leonardo León, uses to eavesdrop on his neighbors. It is his constant obsession, and he begins to hear some domestic disruption next door. What’s more, he is sensing a ghostly presence that is beginning to lock him into tighter and tighter confines in his house. The movie goes without dialogue so as to focus on the voyeuristic eavesdropping of this fella. As such, the plot is a bit hard to piece together, and I struggled a bit with this segment. Probably the weak link of the anthology. Each anthology has one, right?
“Edén” is the most furious and brutal of the segments. It plays out like a bit of a slasher film, with five attractive twenty-somethings heading out for a vacation in the country. Among their group is Maria (Justinne Córdova), who is the daughter of a powerful national politician, who is an expected Presidential candidate. When they arrive at what should be their vacation cabin, they find an industrial camp… and it’s a trap set by a backwoods cult. We never get an explicit explanation of the cult’s motivation, but it would appear both political and mystical in nature. The cult is quick and ruthless and does not mess around (a good thing for an anthology short). Super, super gory.
“On Fire” is a pretty amusing little segment, splicing in some much-needed humor to relieve the brutality of the previous segment. Toñito ( León Arriagada ) is a little boy who is struggling with the fallout of his parent’s divorce. He lives with his hustler dad, Néstor Cantillana, who uses Toñito as a prop to get online dates, constantly posing with his son to make himself look like a great dad. But his dad can be neglectful and selfish leaving Toñito to find his way in the world a bit. It turns out the little boy has pyrokinetic powers (Think Firestarter) and he really doesn’t have a good moral compass due to his dad and his strict grandmother. When somebody does him wrong, he sets them on fire. The CGI is so-so here, but the story is fantastic and will make you chuckle through a good portion of it. Wacky supporting characters, and a pyromaniac kid with no boundaries, what’s to not like?
We have seen in recent years several excellent horror movies coming out of Argentina (Aterrados, Verdulak Blood), Uruguay (The Last Matinee), Brazil (Skull: The Mask) and now, Chile has delivered Apps, a buzz-worthy production that speaks to the creativity and quality of South American horror films. Is the region the new player in International horror? I think the answer is a definitive yes.
I caught Apps streaming on the 2021 Another Hole in the Head Film Festival. It has been showing at other film festivals this year, and if I were to guess, I would expect this to end up on a streaming service by next Summer. Apps, if it were to receive an MPAA rating, would end up being a hard R for gory violence and sexual suggestiveness.