Four people – one bad afternoon. Whenever a FrightFest selection starts with four young folk going into the wilderness for a relaxing afternoon, it’s a sure sign that very bad things are about to happen. Here, in rural Uruguay, local girl Alicia (Paula Silva) has come back from the big city she’s moved to with her urban boyfriend Bruno (Augusto Gordillo) and the couple are spending time at a local beauty spot with her never-left-the-district longtime pals Tincho (Rafael Beltran) and Tola (Luis Pazos). Bruno is insecure and arrogant, and suspects Tincho is Alicia’s ex – which he is – while Tincho has some years too late finally told Alicia that he’d be willing to move to the city to be with her. Tola is content just to hang about, drink beer, and work hard only at copping off with a much younger girl — Paola (Natalia Tarmezzano) – who is obviously going to follow Alicia and get away from this dead end to have a brighter life in the city.
The water-filled abandoned quarry is a dangerous place to swim thanks to metal junk left behind – and there’s talk of venomous tiger turtles – but the real danger obviously comes from the bad mix of these people, as simmering resentments are generically bound to escalate into violence. It takes a while for writer-directors Bernardo and Rafael Antonaccio to segue from conversational undercurrents to outright conflict, but it eventually comes along. The underlying message seems to be that guys in the city and in the country are both utter dicks, and whinily want to make women feel guilty about it – which isn’t exactly news, though the performances and writing are solid and it has a sunny, nerve-stretching suspense.
It’s a risk that all these people – even comparative innocent Alicia – are irritable, sulky, self-involved and inept to the point that it’s hard to care who gets out and what’s left of them … though that doesn’t mean they’re unconvincing, and the bleached-out, bleakly pretty setting – one big gouge in the earth – is striking.