Not too Baaad: Animalada

Argentinian filmmaker Sergio Bizzio’s Animalada (2001) makes the viewer sensational promises in its first thirty minutes that the film never really fulfills. That’s not to say that it is a bad film, actually it is quite an interesting mish-mash of different styles (Bizzio’s influences seem to include such divergent talents as Hitchcock, early Peter Jackson and Pedro Almodovar) that culminates in a really gonzo final act that while not making much in the way of sense, is still fun.

The story concerns Alberto, a wealthy Buenos Aires resident summering in his country home with his wife when he falls in love with Fanny…a sheep. Alberto must try to keep his bizarre love affair under-wraps while increasingly strange events cause the bodies to pile up.You read that right: the film is a bestiality romantic horror comedy.

Bizzio’s reach for artistic credibility with his otherwise silly subject matter is admirable. He tries to pack a bunch of satire and literary allusions into his film (the film has a particularly inspired opening that recalls Eugene Ionesco’s classic absurdist play The Bald Soprano) but many of the arty touches in the second half only serve to bloat the film and weigh down the comedy.

The main problem with Animalada is one of pacing. Once the aforementioned first thrity minutes or so, the viewer expects the film to go wild and it does, but it still takes long pauses that seem like padding to get the film up to feature length.

I am a big fan of dark comedies and Animalada is similar in tone and style to one of my favorite filmmakers in the genre Alex de la Inglesia (1995’s El dia de la Beastia, 2004’s Crimen Ferpecto). Inglesia has seemed to have perfected the steady escalation in absurdity and mayhem that Bizzio’s film seems to lack.

Gripes aside, Animalada is definitely filled with enough interesting ideas, genuine shocks and sick chuckles to warrant at least one viewing. It is available from Synapse Films, the crazies that bring you the 42nd Street Forever series.

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