Macabro 2014 Review: Leopoldo Laborde's PIEL ROTA, No-Budget Horror At Its Best
Leopoldo Laborde is a veteran Mexican guerrilla filmmaker. Piel Rota his 19th production. It world premiered at Macabro 2014 and it is another no budget movie, but one in which you can see the director's experience of 20+ years reflected on the screen. In other words, it's a really well made effort that allows you to stay focused on the story and performances rather than on any technical issue.
Piel Rota's protagonist is a male teenager named Diego whose head is still full of images of his ex-girlfriend Karina. Eventually, she will appear again in his life, but there might be an extra motive aside of a regular reconciliation. In fact, the boy is still angry with her, though that doesn't stop them from reviving their sex life. An earlier cut of the film was a little more graphic than the version that eventually played at the festival, but its first part remains sexually charged, with the boy starting an intimate relationship with the girl's mother as well.
There's a big conflict in Piel Rota, indeed, but firstly, Laborde is interested in creating mood. The sex scenes are accompanied by a piano tune and much of the film relies on just watching Diego as he silently reflects on what's going on. Acting in the film might be a mixed bag, and Luis Fernando Schivy as Diego has some moments that confirm he is not a professional actor, but overall he manages to keep the leading role strong.
In a way, one can tell that something morbid will happen, sooner or later. The mother (played by Anni Salomón) becomes obsessed with Diego, causing not only a perverse bond but also a sense of danger. Salomón is especially intense and her character never hesitates when it comes to insult Diego, whom she considers a useless teenager only good to fulfill her sexual desires.
During the fest Laborde revealed that he found inspiration from several real cases of violence among teenagers in Mexico, however, more than a representation of our times, Piel Rota is - quite simply - a character study that follows its protagonist as his world turns black. The last act confirms this, since we have 25 minutes with no dialog and only Diego's desperation exposed, through dreamlike sequences and some images that - together with the core subjects of manipulation and violence - vividly justify the film's presence at a horror film festival.
Piel Rota screens again in Mexico City, as part of Macabro 2014, on Thursday, September 18.