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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Alexia: an Argentine horror short worth watching

A scene from Andrés Borghi’s horror short film Alexia.
A scene from Andrés Borghi’s horror short film Alexia.
A scene from Andrés Borghi’s horror short film Alexia.
By Pablo Suarez

Andrés Borghi’s film has had a record figure of over one million hits on YouTube

“The horror genre is gaining a place of its own in Argentine cinema, but we still have much to do. We do have some good horror movies, it’s true, but none of them has been groundbreaking in aesthetic terms or has become a box office hit as to start a true movement. Little by little, both screenplays and production values are improving but we have to understand we still have a long way to go. We still haven’t found our type of Argentine horror,” said Argentine filmmaker Andrés Borghi, whose brilliant horror short film Alexia has had a record figure of over one million hits since it was uploaded on YouTube early this year.

Featured at the scream fests of Sitges and Fantaspoa, and winner of the Best Short Film Award at Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre as well as the Audience Award at Aurora, Mexico, Alexia uses the realm of social networks for a ghostly tale of bitter exes that haunt you to death. For Franco is a young man obsessed with his ex girlfriend’s suicide, Alexia, whom he doesn’t dare to unfriend from his Community (meaning Facebook) profile. He feels he wasn’t there for her when she needed him most, and so she killed herself.

Be it true or not, his guilty conscience overwhelms him. That is until one given day, and with the emotional support of his new girlfriend, Franco decides to unfriend Alexia forever. And so he does. The thing is Alexia may be dead, but that won’t stop her from paying her ex boyfriend and his new girlfriend one last, unforgettable visit.

Borghi acknowledged the idea for Alexia came from two different sources. First, a Japanese short film called User 666, in which a user tries to access a cursed website and his computer goes berserk. Secondly, the fact that Borghi had a deceased person among his Facebook contacts. “It wasn’t someone I had known very well, but even then it was weird. So I wondered what would happen if that person who was no longer with us would nonetheless suddenly started using their account,” said Borghi.

Alexia is nothing short of dazzling for numerous reasons. It’s very simple in its premise and extremely precise in its execution. Step by step, suspense is created by means of an articulate sound design, a rhythmic sense of editing and an atmospheric cinematography that renders a chat session under a gloomy light. There’s nothing ostentatious, nothing digitally enhanced if not strictly necessary, nothing capricious. In turn, the jump scares are more than well carried out and the performances are convincing. It also feels as though you were watching one of the crucial sequences in an accomplished full feature film. But don’t get me wrong: it does work perfectly on its own, but it could be a part of a larger picture.

Incidentally, a few months ago the entertaining, effective low-budget US film Unfriended premiered locally, where social media also becomes a source of inspiration for a modern horror slasher about six friends who meet in an online chat room and are unexpectedly and inexplicably hunted by a supernatural force emerging from the account of a dead friend — Unfriended’s original title was, in fact, Cybernatural. In a similar, but different, vein there is also The Den, about the dark fate of a young woman who chats with unknown people on a forum and all of the sudden turn into a witness to an online murder — but this time the killer doesn’t belong to the land of the supernatural.

“In Europe, Japan or the US there’s a long standing tradition of horror cinema of over 100 years, and that creates an undoubted mastery of the genre. But I believe anytime soon we may have our first victorious full length horror movie,” said Borghi, whose credits include other attention-grabbing flicks too.

There’s the short film Otakus, which was also a big hit in You Tube, a comedy/action film that displays Borghi’s fixation with Japanese cartoons — expect also sound fights and flashy FX. Another peculiar piece is Working Day, made in New Zealand thanks to the programme Your Big Break and awarded by famed helmer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings), whose legendary Bad Taste and Braindead were pillars in the horror/comedy genre. Currently, Borghi is showing his comedy/action full length feature Born to Die in a number of international film festivals. For the time being, check out Alexia online. You won’t be disappointed.

@pablsuarez

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