Mar Negro (2013)

Rating: B+

Dir: Rodrigo Aragão
Star: Walderrama Dos Santos, Kika de Oliveira, Cristian Verardi, Mayra Alarcon
a.k.a. Dark Sea

There are films where you reach the end and go, “What did I just watch?” This would be one of them. While that’s not necessarily a good thing, in this case, the insanity on view is not just epic, it’s also highly entertaining. Two fishermen off the coast of Brazil pull… let’s just say, “something” up in their net. Before it scrabbles its way back overboard, it takes a chunk out of one’s arm. This sets in a train of events which includes zombies, black magic, an albino busboy, the transvestite madam of the local whorehouse letting rip with her chain gun – oh, and a beached whale – and is probably the goriest movie I’ve seen since Braindead, I kid you not.

It does take a while to reach that point, with the first hour being mostly setting things up, with steadily increasing unease and weirdness, such as the stingray that just won’t die. But the rural Brazillian setting is an entirely novel one, so interest is easily sustained, and when it kicks off… Boy, does it kick off. The rest of the plot, outside the extreme bloodletting, has the busboy (Dos Santos), known for obvious reasons as Whitet, fascinated with local beauty Indiara (de Oliveira), whose husband, Snapper, was the one who got bitten. Whitey has acquired a book of arcane magical lore, which he intends to use to draw her affections: however, another magician shows up in the village, intend on getting his hands on the book.

Meanwhile, Madam Ursula (Veradi) is preparing for the opening of her new “club,” and has brought in a special guest to entertain patrons. Unfortunately, the fish served at the event is also contaminated, and those who eat it, end up going down with something a great deal worse than a dose of Brazillian belly. Between these victims on the inside, and Snapper on the outside, club security is in for a busy night. There are occasionally moments where the effects don’t quite live up to the imagination, and if you asked me to explain the last five minutes, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But there is just so much energy and enthusiasm on view here, that it’s impossible not to be swept along in the torrent of excess, when the dam breaks in the second half. The characters are memorable and nicely-portrayed, and the film looks nice too, though Aragão (who has made several previous movies with similar themes that I’m now on a mission to locate) could perhaps reign back on his use of Dutch angles a bit. Dammit though, if that’s the chief criticism I can find about the film, you know its a winner, and I’m prepared to bet you won’t have seen anything quite like this ever before.