The desert, a piss-stained tan, seems to stretch in every direction, and even better it's stuffed with corpses. Burial mounds and scrub-brush, as far as the eyes can see -- you've got to drive a little extra just to find an empty plot to bury your secrets inside of.
This is the Argentinian province at the heart of Benjamín Naishtat's deeply unsettling new thriller Rojo, set on the cliff's edge of 1976's military coup and (United States sanctioned) mass murder, where people disappearing, poof, came as regular as the mail delivery. Thirty-thousand up and gone -- the second your neighbor stops answering their door-bell means there's a bunch of free shit for the taking, whoo hoo.
The list of what we're willing to ignore as long as it's not happening to us is a long one, longer by the hour every day, and all the times we've told ourselves that we wouldn't let That happen here seem to turn to ash every time a new news-story flashes on the television screen or Twitter feed. Turns out we're perfectly willing to let all sorts of horrible things happen, and the characters in Rojo -- starting with the well-to-do and respected lawyer Claudio (Darío Grandinetti) and his pretty wife, their sexually curious teenage daughter -- are no different; as surreal as their moments take a tumbling towards it all really seems perfectly reasonable, what one will do to keep going about's ones days unaccosted.
Bringing new meaning to the phrase "eat in peace" a whiz-bang scene of boiling over tensions at a restaurant at the film's start displaces us immediately, using our aggrieved sympathies against us -- who wouldn't bark back at a rude man interrupting our fine dining experience? But before you realize what's going on he's screaming "Nazis" at us and there's a gun and we realize, oh ho, we might be standing on the wrong side of the burial pit. It's so easy, to find yourself there, looking down into the abyss just because you slid aside a foot to the right when you saw it coming... and okay sure that's a shovel in your hand but everybody else helped, what's the big whoop? Last man standing and all.
Rojo is now streaming on Amazon --
I shared the trailer with you last week.