Dark Skull | Chicago Reader

Dark Skull

The influence of Argentinian filmmaker Lisandro Alonso (Jauja, Los Muertos) hangs over this debut feature by Bolivian writer-director Kiro Russo. Like Alonso, Russo employs nonprofessional actors, immersive sound design, exotic locations (realized so vividly that they practically register as characters), and frequent narrative ellipses; they conjure such a strong mood that I was sucked in despite the derivative style. A young ne'er-do-well, struck by his father's death, abandons city life to return to the countryside where he was raised, move in with his grandmother, and join his uncle in the local coal mine. The young man clashes with his new surroundings, and his coworkers treat him with distrust, but eventually he takes his first steps toward maturity. Much of the action takes place at night or underground, and Russo uses the dark environments to convey the protagonist's uneasiness as well as the seductive power of the unknown. In Spanish with subtitles.

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