Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
After being chased through a field and past some old industrial relics, a young girl is brutally raped. Escaping her attacker using a rock to the head, she returns home. Then I think her attacker comes back to life to get her, there are some creepy, blood dripping from mouth Asian horror flick quick cuts, and then that's it. Frankly, I'm a little lost on this one. It's supposed to be a commentary on the rape of nature, and how nature always takes her revenge. Huh?
Is it good movie?
I've watched a lot of short films over the years (enough to know that I should stop watching them), and despite the occasional art house pile of crap, I'm a huge fan of ambiguous and twisty plots and visuals. But never before has a short film completely floored me, not because it was a good movie, which this quite isn't, but rather because I was left scratching my bald head in confusion. I'm sure this little 29 minute opus from Italian artist and musician Michele Pastrello had a plot, or even a purpose, in there somewhere. But my dumb-as-rocks Canadian ass couldn't find either. maybe I'm getting complacent and lazy, or maybe I just don't get what the writer/director was trying to say with this one.
Don't get me wrong, the movie is itself well shot and very competent, in an edgy, art school rebel sort of way. The scenery is nice to look at, as are the actors. It's just that for the larger part of a very short running time, not a whole hell of a lot actually happens. There is no tension in the overlong chase, and the whole rape scene is so clumsy and disjointed that it makes the little copy of bad Asian cinema ending seem like a breath of freshly dug grave air. But even the ending comes off as stale and wanting, because there is no narrative flow, no exposition, no character attachment or development. In short, there is nothing to hold my eyes on the screen and my thumb off of the fast forward button. Eleonora Bolla is an actress that I could keep my eyes on all day, but her play in this morality tale on the destruction of nature doesn't really do much for her. Nor is the movie as brilliant and mind blowing as other reviewers would have you think. To compare Pastrello to the likes of Romero, Cronenberg and Carpenter are extremely presumptuous, and it's grossly premature to compare him to even his Italian or European contemporaries after only two short films. I agree that it is technically well done, and very well shot. But he is no Second Coming for the Italian Horror genre.
Now that I've bitched about that enough, I have to say that it's not very often that any European filmmaker fails to impress me. But what did impress me about 32 were the haunted and stark visuals, and the sense of style that this short had. It wasn't brilliant, and it wasn't punched up digitally very much, but Pastrello makes good use of his locations and comes out of it with something more akin to an extended music video than a movie. While the visuals didn't really effectively convey the director's message here, they were damn nice to look at. He shows real promise as a filmmaker. A little more work on the narrative and a bit of tightening up on the action itself, and this could have been a nasty and effective little flick. As it stands, it's just one of the flock. It's very technically skilled, and very well shot, just not well written or executed.
Video / Audio
Video: Since it was hard to tell, and nothing was marked, I think it was basic Widescreen at 1.68:1. Regardless the digital video looked good.
Audio: Again, the same with the audio. While it was mostly music, there is some Italian with English subtitles, in what I'm assuming is Dolby Stereo.
There is Pastrello's excellent previous short film "In My Head". It's just as technically skilled as 32, but it is a far better movie. There's story, tension and creepiness galore. It's still not brilliant by any means, but promising.
While spot on technically, Pastrello's short morality tale on the price to be paid for violating nature is a plodding, music video style horror-lite tale that could have been more. As it stands, there are a few creepy scares, but not enough substance to elevate it above the style pile. The trailer is actually scarier and more effective than the film, and that's bad. It's atmospheric and haunting, yes, but even despite its short length, it drags and suffers from a lack of clear narrative. However, his other short film was much better done, so it would be interesting to see what he has to offer with a feature length movie. Maybe it will live up to, even a fraction, of the opinions and high hopes that his fans among the European media seem to have.