Director Paulo Nascimento’s dark vision of tomorrow District 666 is set in 2042, twenty years into a deadly worldwide pandemic. To fight spiraling death counts due to virus mutation, martial law was declared in Brazil years ago, and the country was divided into isolated districts. The internet has been banned, and all communications and media are controlled by Central, who is always watching through cameras. People are not allowed to communicate or travel outside their districts. Cinemas and restaurants are all boarded up, with goods being distributed through government vouchers during the one hour people are allowed outside. Masks must be worn outside of living quarters, and human contact is forbidden.
Yod (Lucas Zaffari) was born into this world, coming up in the masked hell of the 666 Orphanage. He has never pulled a breath of fresh air that didn’t have to travel through the oppressive fabric of a mask. He works as a district enforcer of the constant curfew, patrolling the desolate streets after dark with a nightstick in hand. But Yod isn’t all serious, as he’s got a sweet spot for Laura (Gabrielle Fleck). She works a lucrative side hustle for extra vouchers by lowering her bra strap up and down for perverts onscreen. His pals, Jeff (Pedro Caetano) and Lisa (Alli Willow), live together in flagrant defiance of the law. Jeff works at the hospital, formerly taking care of virus patients, but he’s been moved from that section. He keeps him and Lisa full of drugs to deal with the isolation.
“The longer Yod and company search for signs of life outside their district, the more evidence Central gathers…”
Yod works with his friends to illegally access information outside of his district. This is done through handwritten morse code and landline phones that the government doesn’t monitor. Madaleine (Giulia Gam), who worked on the virus project for many years before being pulled off, as a scientist, is allowed to own books that have been banned. She helps with their underground activities as much as possible, though bound to secrecy on her work on the virus. The longer Yod and company search for signs of life outside their district, the more evidence Central gathers to close in on them. The closer to the truth they get, the more people die.
One cannot deny that the 21st century has seen a lot of darkness, with things getting worse and worse. The gleaming spires of tomorrow hoped for are still far off on a smog-filled horizon. All of this makes the challenge of creating a near-future movie, the kind I grew up loving, daunting. Nascimento nails it as District 666 exhibits master craftsmanship. It has an excellent visual palate of desolation in hyper-stylized colored lighting. The vocabulary of neon decay is impressive, with the streets looking both futuristic and decrepit.
"…a magnificent coda that reaches Ed Wood levels of hilarity."