Studio: Dinamogeno Films
Director: Alejandro G. Alegre
Writer: Alejandro G. Alegre
Producer: Alejandro G. Alegre, Victor Leycegui, Roberto G. Alegre, Enrique Villanueva
Stars: Isaac Perez Calzada, Marcos Duarte, Veronica de Alba, Guillermo Jair, Rodrigo Ostap, Manuel Ballesteros, Martin Villareal, Angel Zermen, Perla Delgado, Miriam Rascol
A cult leader and his kidnapped former colleague confront conflicting ideologies as the cult commits multiple murders.
The challenging part of attending a film festival as a critic is seeing as many features as possible while saving enough time to write up coverage before falling too far behind. It¡¯s a big downer to come home from a terrific fest knowing you have a whole host of movies still rattling around in your thoughts, all of which have yet to be put on paper.
To better balance my time between writing reviews and catching more screenings, I had to choose to skip two movies during Screamfest 2016. One of those movies was Alejandro G. Alegre¡¯s Spanish-language thriller ¡°Inicuo: The Brotherhood,¡± a casualty of where it fell on the schedule and when I needed to play a little catch-up.
I knew I made the right call on what to miss when the next night, ¡°Inicuo¡± occupied early evening talk among fest-goers in the lobby, and not in a good way. I say ¡°talk,¡± although many commiserating conversations involved only pained expressions or onomatopoeia, not actual words. A handful of overheard interactions went something like this:
¡°Did you see last night¡¯s movie?¡±
¡°I know, right? Oof.¡±
¡°What was that? Yikes!¡±
¡°(sigh) I don¡¯t know, man. Blech.¡±
My smart decision became an ill advised one when, months later, ¡°Inicuo: The Brotherhood¡± landed on Amazon VOD and I opted to belatedly fill the hole in my Screamfest 2016 coverage. Within minutes of pressing Play, I was right back in that lobby, retroactively identifying with every other nonplussed patron who cited the film as the fest¡¯s disappointing lowlight.
¡°Inicuo¡± is not a Lynchian epic involving psychological dreamscapes, nor is it exactly an arthouse indie loaded to bear with interpretively ambiguous style. It¡¯s a mostly grounded crime/suspense yarn, albeit edited in a mild ¡°Memento¡± meets ¡°Pulp Fiction¡± fashion. But I¡¯ll be sent to Mars in a rocket ship before I¡¯ll be able to make heads or tails of the story and describe the movie in any meaningful detail.
According to IMDb, the plot allegedly involves Federico, a cult leader who kidnaps his former partner Fernando, ¡°whom trying to leave as heir of worship amid a slaughter justified by their own past tragedies.¡± Amazon is differently worded, yet similarly confused about that last bit. Their listing concludes, ¡°which will try to leave as heir of worship in the midst of a slaughter justified by their own past tragedies.¡±
Fine, I guess we¡¯re on our own to puzzle this out.
The first scene is a man, whom I believe is Federico, although I am not fully certain even after having watched the movie, in a forest confronting a goat before falling to his knees. The screen cuts to a quote from Leviticus that is translated to, ¡°if a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.¡± Ok then.
Federico is next seen throwing a book into a fire. Over opening credits, Federico then wordlessly meets with another man, shows him an apparent kidnapping video on a phone, hands over a SIM card, and suddenly kills the man with a screwdriver to his head.
Change scenes. Two unidentified men take photographs of a woman sitting casually in a chair. A fast montage of red-tinted shots flashes briefly before one of these two men, Fernando, wakes on a rooftop as if hungover. Fernando enters the empty building downstairs, takes a weird phone call from a woman called Lu, finds a smelly brown substance on his hand, and tries opening a sealed crate as a curious neighbor comes to the door.
While Fernando works on unlocking the crate, a man and a woman ring the doorbell. The neighbor greets them. The unidentified man at the door whispers ¡°Vargas¡± and after the neighbor has a confused response, the unidentified man kills him.
Around this point an additional problem pops up via spotty English language subtitles. Misspellings and grammar mistakes are negligible. But there are lines like, ¡°yesterday they start brought some furniture, right?¡± and, ¡°the mankind do not has to forgive us we forgive to the mankind¡± where deciphering dialogue¡¯s intent is an unwinnable scenario.
I can continue breaking down scenes chronologically and not come closer to uncovering a sensible plot. Around the 45-minute mark I strongly considered starting the film over from the beginning. Then I realized none of the information I possessed from having watched half the film would improve my understanding of anything on a second viewing.
Turning to the internet in search of something that might aid in determining who was who and what was happening proved fruitless. Twitter had zero search results for ¡°Inicuo review¡± and Google was no help either. The only review I found belonged to a brief blog entry, which included the writer¡¯s admission of having wisely walked out on the Screamfest screening without watching the full film.
If you came here under similar circumstances hoping my spoiler button synopsis would fill in the blanks, I apologize for the fat question mark occupying the space where a summary should be. Alas, ¡°Inicuo: The Brotherhood¡± is an absolute enigma of almost entirely indeterminate fiction. And its unnecessarily complicated storytelling isn¡¯t warranted in the least by what is otherwise a seemingly straightforward setup.
Still worse is the fact that the film isn¡¯t compelling enough to justify taking another stab at putting the pieces together. As mentioned earlier, I¡¯m unconvinced that having seen it once provides any significant advantage in figuring out the film anyway.
¡°Inicuo: The Brotherhood¡± fails to satisfy as a cult drama since it feels more like it concerns a pack of small time crooks holed up in a house holding someone for ransom. The film¡¯s fogginess extends to uncertain delineations of the parts everyone plays in the group dynamic. Not only does ¡°Inicuo¡± beat around the bush of its overall purpose, individual components are just as cryptic, interchangeable, or uninteresting.
The movie is such a random carousel of claptrap and characters coming and going that it¡¯s a wonder ¡°Inicuo¡± resembles a functional film at all. Had I known how dead right those festival lobby snickers were, I would have known better than to watch it, which is oddly no different an experience than having never watched it at all.
NOTE: The film¡¯s Spanish title is ¡°Inicuo: La Hermandad.¡±
Review Score: 30