Updated: Jun 11, 2020
This begins by telling us we’re in Brazil “In the near future”. With what’s about to happen, that’s a very bleak statement. A truck drives down a dusty road, running over empty coffins in a desolate landscape. It really is an ominous start. We’re headed for the town of Bacurau, a small remote village in mourning. Mourning Carmelita, the grandmother of Teresa (Bárbara Colen), who’s returning for the funeral. She was something of a figurehead for this tight-knit community, but this is a film without any top billing. Instead there’s an even spread of balanced voices, that paint the kind of solidarity they’ll sorely need. There’s something off though, the score signals it ever so subtly and when I say off, I mean look out, it’s about to hit the fan. You’d maybe expect something of a simple and basic existence in Bacurau, but it’s a diverse place, lots of tradition, lots of modernity. Lots of spirituality and plenty of sin. It’s day to day is recognisable. During a school class, Teresa’s father, a teacher is looking up the town on google maps with the children... except it’s not there, which again is off. There’s also the question of a Mayoral election. Tony Junior being one candidate who rolls into town to find the place seemingly deserted... the residents making themselves scarce. Tony is obviously bent and won’t find much support in Bacurau. It’s quite a mixed bag of threads to start a film like this. Along with the funeral, the village disappearing from the map, a damned river, little water and a dodgy mayor, there’s also weird drugs, that a smiley bloke on a motorbike peddles. Then things get really odd, as this fella is followed down a dirt track by a drone that looks like a 50s inspired UFO! Something sinister is definitely going on and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s mysterious and lays the groundwork well in a series of increasingly weird, creepy and violent events. Some of which involving children are very hard to watch. As we draw to the midway point, it appears the town is being targeted and things start to make more sense. If I’m being honest, it’s a bit of a shame. There was intrigue in the mystery, but the second act reveals its true intention. It’s depiction of Brazil with political corruption and violence. The culprit for this targeted violence it turns out is Udo Keir, that guy you’ll recognise from films in the 80/90s as the bad guy with the piercing eyes. Here is very bad, leading a band of yahoo gun-toting Americans on a sort of human hunt. It’s here it goes from being mysterious and tense, to being sinister, very very sinister. As the body count rises, it’s clear, this is sport. Bacurau is being hunted. What I thought was a complex narrative, really isn’t and as we roll into the second half of the film, characters like village hero and vigilante Lunga marks the fight back against the US mercenary tourists. Just in time too as the power is cut to the village and they move it for what they thought would be a fun and easy kill. When two assailants attack the home of the smilie drug dude, they find him doing a spot of naked gardening. It turns out he’s spotted them though and takes one of their faces off with a gunshot that evokes memories of the head explosions in Scanners. The FX department really outdoing themselves. Tony the sleazy politician has done a deal it seems, offering Bacurau and it’s inhabitants as live target practice. They’ve bitten off more then they can chew though, as the finale becomes an almighty bloodbath. It’s not quite what I’d expected and I’m not entirely sure if I like it. It’s well shot though, well acted and the pacing is pretty spot on. Troubling themes for sure, but a gripping film and oddly satisfying.