Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Upurga (2022) Fantaspoa 2022


Reeling from a past tragedy a rafting guide tags along with his sister and her friends when they go into the forest to shoot a video. Picking up a local inspector who warns them never to leave the river to enter the forest, they do just that and things begin to go wrong and primal.

I’ve delayed reviewing UPURGA because I couldn’t figure out what I thought of the film. I wanted to try and see it a second time before I wrote it up. I watched the film the other night  a second time and to be honest I still don’t know what I think of it.

This is a gorgeous looking film. It is a film that feels real. We are in the forest and on the river with the characters. Its one of the very few films I’ve ever seen where I had no sense of there being a crew just out of the frame. This film feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. Frankly this is exactly the sort of film that should be in the running for an Oscar because it’s cinematography is a key component to the story telling process. Sadly films like this get pushed aside for films that have beautiful vistas or compelling images like in Bladerunner 2049.

My uncertainty with the film comes from the narrative. This is a film that echoes several other horror films, and or fairy tales where we are warned not to stray from the path. Madness lurks in the darkness and we should never investigate it. While the film has moments and genuinely generates more than it’s share of creepy fearful moments, I’m not sure it all hangs together. Something seems off, even allowing for the fact that there is a kind of dream logic operating here, something seems off.

In a weird way this film reminded me of a film called YELLOWBRICKROAD about a supposed haunted trail in New England.  When I first saw the film I was overwhelmed by the theatrical experience and wicked sound design, however when I saw the film again I found that the narrative didn’t hold together. It did a few things that seemed to go against its own internal logic, I could see how the director moved things to make the film go how he wanted it to, and not the way the characters and situations were heading. I have that same feeling in regard to UPURGA. Its not really fatal, but I can’t not unseen the hand of the director manipulating things.

Worth a look for what works, but I’m not sure you’ll be satisfied.

This film screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022. For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com

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