El Eslabón Podrido review: Shocks with it’s unflinching sexual depravity but fails to engage the audience’s full emotions.

El Eslabón Podrido review
El Eslabón Podrido review

Director: Valentín Javier Diment
Cast: Luis Ziembrowski, Paula Brasca
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 75 minutes

Synopsis: A small rural village becomes the setting for a series of ghastly events.

El Eslabón Podrido or as it’s known to use British folks The Rotten Link is an eclectic concoction that falls somewhere between Irreversible and Amelie.

Set in a small, isolated village El Eslabón Podrido tries to offer a quirky and oddly jolly (at times) spin on horror. Starting at almost its end point, the film kicks off with a puzzling bang before quickly rewinding to fill in the gaps. It is at this point we meet our characters, including our leading man Raulo, the village simpleton who earns a living delivering firewood to the whole community. The leading lady is Roberta, Raulo’s sister, and the village prostitute, who operates out of the local pub each evening and who has been with everyone in the village with one exception, local businessman Sicilio.

Warned by their mother, who seems to have some kind of sixth sense despite her dementia, to never sleep with all the men in the village, Roberta consistently spurs Sicilio’s advances. Her mother believes that should her daughter sleep with all the male townsfolk they will tire of her and ill her. Her ramblings are never questioned, the viewer getting the sense that mum has some mild prophetic powers.

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Eventually Sicilio gets his way. Viewers should be warned that the film contains strong scenes of sexual violence and incest meaning that it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Personally this writer found it all a little too uncomfortable to watch. The film has a run time of barely over an hour and yet a good few minutes of the narrative are spent watching the violation of a young woman.

The scenes between the three-piece family unit are at times heart-warming and at others depressingly sad. This is down to the upsetting and debilitating brain disease that the mother has rendering her unable to recognise her own children and when she isn’t lucid she’s all too vicious to gentle giant Raulo.

El Eslabón Podrido is an exceptionally slow-burner, which is peculiar given that the length is so short. Too much time is spent setting up circumstances and when the climax comes around it’s a case of too little too late. The events glimpsed during the opening go onto become the catalyst for the ends that transpire in the end. Once the bloodshed starts there are some really ingenious deaths, making imaginative use of everyday artefacts.

El Eslabón Podrido shocks with it’s unflinching sexual depravity but fails to engage the audience’s full emotions. A relatively short film that feels longer than it is, El Eslabón Podrido has an interesting concept but doesn’t quite achieve it’s goals.

El Eslabón Podrido review, Kat Hughes, August 2015.

El Eslabón Podrido screens at Frightfest on Friday 28th August at 1pm.