Partisan is a 2015 film directed by Ariel Kleiman, that appears not terribly well regarded and given the box-office, not seen by many, and so if I have a thought about it, it hardly matters. For those who love horror and Weird, it has much going for it.
Importantly, it is confident: bold and solid, not afraid for the camera to linger with longish shots, and unhesitatingly place characters in the external world with wide frames. While often grey, especially in the exteriors, the greys are luminous, not whispy or cloudy. Sound and music are not subdues, and it revels in its oddities. We are in a pocket universe, adjacent to, opening to, borrowing from our own, but slightly out of kilter with us. Characters emerge from holes in the limestone ground, sometimes to wreak havoc upon those hunkered down in flimsy real world bunkers, living a troglodyte existence. Their interaction with others may be recalled with puzzlement and a shake of the head later at its oddness, but only if the interaction is survived. The nightclub is peopled by children, singing inappropriate songs with innocent gusto. The resort is tawdry, but not to the inhabitants. The language and actions are communal, centred on peace and harmony, but the source of income is unabashedly violent. Given their self-sufficiency, that terribly-earned income appears to be spent mostly on unnecessary baubles, but if we got on that track, I guess we could have a conversation about blood diamonds. The secrets are not secret, they are just not spoken.
I enjoyed the sense of menace, and the strong atmosphere that was maintained throughout, which is often what I seek in horror – a disturbed sense, a feeling of weirdness, the suggestion of possibilities and otherness, a fear of what may be revealed if the carpet is lifted and the floorboards torn up. A hint that we bump up against oddness from time to time, and do not know how lucky we are that the encounter was not slightly different. The world is not quite right, but nobody who knows will say why.
Vincent Cassel was very good in a film that I did not know was Australian (though I detected familiar accents throughout) until after seeing it, which was a good thing, because as an Australian, I am biased against Australian movies. Don’t read the wikipedia plot summary before seeing it, there’s a hint.