Taboos are what horror is founded upon. Those subjects that everyone wants to avoid, our people want to talk about. Rape, incest, torture, you name it-this is what we do! But even some stuff is a little too grimy for public consumption. This would include the stranger sects of the public, even. It’s a subject that often gets played up in cartoonish manners, usually to tone down the sheer vile nature of the subject. If you grew up in a small town, there’s always one weirdo who is an urban legend for committing this act of passion (?)…yep, you know what I’m talking about. Oh, hell I’ll just say it-bestiality. I know, I know-it’s really fucking gross. But as horror fans go, we laugh at the things that make us squirm. Well, if you haven’t had your uncomfortable meter pushed lately by the idea of man-on-beast action, then hit up the fine folks at Synapse Films for a copy of Animalada.
Animalada (aka Animal) is the story of a wealthy retiree who’s boredom leads him to seek comfort in the arms (?) of his beloved sheep, “Fanny”. As his obsession grows stronger for the animal, so do the risks he’s willing to take to keep that “love” alive. The people that try and interfere with Alberto and Fanny’s relationship meet a horrific fate that ends with their body parts being ground up and put into Fanny’s food dish. As Alberto’s family begins to confront his strange ways and try and change him, things are brought to a cacophonous ending befitting of such an insane story. No one, including his children, will stop Alberto’s love for Fanny…no one.
Yes, this is really repulsive. Let’s just put that on the table right now. It is not your typical exploitation. It’s a film that will test your ability in terms of endurance. Sure, there’s violence and gore but it’s nothing we haven’t encountered before. It’s the physical and emotional relationship Alberto has with Fanny the sheep that will be trying. I found myself nervously laughing throughout the duration of this film, if for no other reason, to make myself feel less like a creep for watching it. And why the fuck is it always sheep, by the way?! Seriously…between this flick, a Belgian film called Calvaire, and a myriad of others, if a person is humping an animal it’s always a sheep. Gross. Anyway…while the film is primarily character driven, the moments of violence and lust (for lack of a better term) make you squirm so much, you’d think you were watching some sort of sick porn. You don’t actually see anything, thank Christ, but the way in which those scenes are brilliantly shot you know good and goddamn well what is happening. If it IS possible, the most disgusting scenes are shot quite tastefully. Writer/director/producer Sergio Bizzio was very exact in how he put this sort of subject matter out to the public, though I’m not entirely certain why. You still know what’s happening.
For all intents purposes, Animalada is a very black comedy. The idea of a man falling in love with a sheep is comical by nature, but its comic side takes a dark turn into some serious killing/dismemberment action. Think of Bad Taste, Black Sheep, and Lolita (I guess) but replace the underage girl with a sheep. Oh! Or maybe Harold & Maude but with a sheep and murder added in! No matter the comparison, it’s a really messed up premise but yields entertaining, if not disgusting results. The actors carry the story quite well and are able to play up the dramatic side, while still tending to the comedy. Star Carlo Roffe brilliantly handles the role of Alberto. Due to the complexity of playing someone who’s fallen in love with a sheep, one could only guess that it required a decent amount of experience to pull off. Alberto’s descent into madness is definitely the stuff nightmares are made of. His blatant disregard for his family in order to protect his love is more than creepy as we see him kill anyone who tries to interfere. It’s truly a very messed up love story.
It’s no secret that Synapse Films is the best in business when it comes to unearthing these freakish gems and giving them to the world. Done in a lovely 1:78:1 transfer, the film is pristeen and rich with color. The ranch in Buenos Aires on which the film was made gives a lush backdrop to this filthy tale. Synapse’s masterful clean up of the material only enhances the beauty of the film. They were able to capture the beauty of the area while still getting Bizzio’s nasty story acrossed. In true Synapse fashion, we get a brilliant film and perfect presentation. As Diamond Dave used to say, it’s a “stellar production”.
The long and short of it is that it’s not going to win over the entire horror community. It’s not a meat & potatoes horror flick. There’s a great deal of subversive material that will turn off the more casual film fans but if you’ve been around the crack house block a time or two, you’re going to be in on the joke. There’s plenty of hilarity going on but bear in mind: All the chaos in the film revolves around a guy who’s humping a farm animal. Do NOT forget that…dude fucking sheep. But amidst all this ickiness is a darkly humorous and edgy film that will challenge the more hardcore types. Once again, Synapse Films goes out into the global film market and brings back an oddity to shock the world with…is the world ready?