Undergods (2020) – Festival review

Undergods, Chino Moya’s disturbing first feature set in a dystopian future, has its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival.

Future Shock

by Alexa Dalby

Undergods

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

In a post-apocalyptic city in the near future, rendered in murky bluey-grey tones, a dilapidated truck tours the ruined streets between monolithic Eastern European apartment blocks and strange, ugly abstract monuments. It’s driven by two brutal, callous workmen: their work is unclear as yet.

In one unfinished new block, a stranger calls on an unsuspecting middle-aged couple, explaining that he had locked himself out of his flat. Elsewhere, a father tells his sleepy little daughter a bedtime story about a merchant in an unspecified near past who has a visit from an inventor. And in a foul factory-prison somewhere, an inmate is released.

Undergods is three weird horror stories that emerge out of a dystopian society like a malignant fungus. The common theme is the havoc caused to apparently ordinary lives by unexpected visitors. Clever, disorientating Escher-like links take us seamlessly from one story to another. The battered truck and its rapacious crew reappears throughout, its terrible purpose gradually revealed.

The film creates a vividly realised world of the imagination – the drab present blends into a dimly lit Art Deco past and then back again to a harsh reality in the film’s flow. It’s bleakly Eastern European in feel, with a mix of Estonian, Swedish, Serbian and British actors and accents; as intriguing, suspenseful and intricately structured as a Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room. Director Chino Moya’s previous experience in creating unusual ads and music videos has resulted in a professional and highly promising feature debut that’s a grim, disturbing peek through the keyhole into the fantasy world of a nightmarish alternative future.

Undergods has its world premiere at the virtual Fantasia Film Festival 2020 on 30 August 2020. Fantasia Festival runs from 20 August to 2 September as a virtual edition via Festival Scope and Shift 72’s virtual screening platform. https://fantasiafestival.com/

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