J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Indigenous: Beware the Chupacadra

There is a good reason why the Pan-American Highway has yet to penetrate the Darien Gap. For years, it has been a base of operations for the brutal Marxist FARC guerillas, who have kidnapped and murdered many hikers that unwisely ventured inside. Frankly, a group of hard partying American tourists is probably lucky to encounter the mythical Chupacadra instead in Alastair Orr’s Indigenous (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

Scott Williams and his hot new girlfriend Steph Logan are meeting up with his three hedonistic friends for some fun in the Panamanian sun. Trevor, the really annoying one, starts putting the moves on local bombshell Carmen, who thinks it would be great fun to check out the waterfall she used to enjoy swimming under, until the government declared the Darien Gap off limits. Her ambiguously platonic friend Julio makes her promise not to take the gringos there, but she does anyway. Chupacabra attacks ensue.

There is no point in beating around the bush. Indigenous is basically a cornball monster movie, but it is exactly the sort of half disreputable creature feature seriously cult film connoisseurs periodically crave. It starts out promising, with a lot of cutting dialogue and plenty of eye candy (from both the bikini babes and surfer dudes). According to the press notes, Laura Penuela, who plays Carmen, was anointed “Best Body” in the 2009 Miss Colombia pageant, so obviously she was cast for her guitar-playing talent.

The problem is when the Chupacadra attacks, the film is so dark in a visual sense, it is almost impossible to follow the on-screen action. Granted, horror movies are usually scarier when you can’t see the evil antagonist, but in this case we are supposed to, but we still can’t. The character of Julio also becomes laughable ineffectual, as he spends most of the second half driving around aimlessly, while leaving pointless voice messages for assorted characters.

However, the creature make-up is pretty good, at least when we get to see it. As for the ensemble led by the bland Zachary Soetenga and recognizable TV regular Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill, Supernatural), they are certainly all quite fit. Several also have a knack for snarky attitude, which is more than you might expect.

Indigenous is a mediocre film at best, but if that is perversely attractive to you, then definitely have at it, as long as we all understand where we are coming from. This is just the sort of teasingly chaste, occasionally gory exploitation film that never goes out of fashion. For those of you who know who you are, Indigenous releases today on VOD.

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