FANTASIA FEST 2020 REVIEW! Undergods is a fantastical dystopian noir by Spanish filmmaker Chino Moya. As mentioned in our Recent Twisted Tales and Other Bizarre Stories list, the movie is easily one of the best films of the year, if not the most peculiar.
Set in a post-apocalyptic, not so distant future, Undergods is an anthology of sorts, stitching together various stories with ominous vibes and some well-spent touches of dark humor. All the – often disturbing – characters live in grim anachronistic places where everyone seems connected, and everything audiences are shown goes from weird to weirder!
The journey starts with a duo of odd “collectors” sharing stories (and drinking gasoline) while driving through inhospitable lands. From there, viewers are transported to those gloomy tales where they are told an unusual bedtime story. And are introduced to, amongst others, a rebellious rich heiress, a determined architect, a greedy rich person, a strange stranger looking for shelter, a desperate wife, and frustrated individuals looking to break free and make it in this depressing and grey world.
In fact, almost all of the characters in Undergods appear to be desperately reaching for something that requires either great sacrifices or sin on their part. It is as if there is no place for happiness or good luck anywhere in this world. Even though the film can be read in multiple ways and each vignette is like a foggy dream you can’t fully piece together, allowing for multiple interpretations, we get a clear idea of what Moya wanted to express or denounce about the state of our society and humanity.
“…almost all of the characters in Undergods appear to be desperately reaching for something that requires either great sacrifices or sin…”
This twisted, imaginative tale is unlike any other but might bring to mind projects like Black Mirror and emanates some “High-Rise meets Delicatessen with a good splash of Chernobyl” vibes. That is saying a lot and nothing, but you can be sure the movie will keep you intrigued with its bleak stories acted by recognizable faces of Art-house and Eurocinema, from Belgium’s finest thespian Jan Bijvoet to Scottish actress Kate Dickie best known for her role in Game Of Throne, to Son of Saul’s Géza Röhrig, and Khalid Abdalla of the acclaimed 2007 The Kite Runner.
With such commendable style and substance, it is hard to believe that Undergods is a debut feature. Still, Chino Moya has shown through his previous commercial and music video work that he builds very distinctive quirky universes. There might have been time for some plot-holes to be fixed, characters to be developed deeper, or some such, but Undergods manages to mesmerize and captivate every minute of the way with a bewitching visual palette and an appropriately fitting electronic score.
The cherry on top is that this trippy movie comes with one of the best posters of the year—an appropriately Dalínean image calling back to the stories within stories nature of Undergods and its surrealist style.
Undergods screened at the 2020 Fantasia Fest.
"…easily one of the best films of the year, if not the most peculiar."