Quality film news, reviews and features
17th June 2012 12:00:00
Posted by John White

The Squad

DVD Video Review: Good writing, terrific cinematography and fine shooting of exteriors lead to a classy, tense and affecting effort. ..... a successful intelligent horror film ... with a very good transfer and excellent 5.1 sound.

The Film

Some everyday and basic things seem like pointless annoyances until you know why they exist. For instance, have you ever had a runny nose and found yourself not seeing the point of it - informed people tell me this is the wonder of the human body regulating itself and preparing itself to fight for better health. Well, do you ever wonder what the point of fear is when all it does is stop you or scare you and often for very little in the way of reason?imageCleverer people again say fear is sometimes genetic memory - fear of spiders, for instance, recalls when we could be commonly attacked by arachnids. Others claim fear is a spiritual intimation, a message from deities to keep us away from harm. Depending on who you are, fear can mean nothing or everything, but what it does to you can't be argued away. Fear, where it comes from and what it does to us is the subject of The Squad.

Some 14000 feet up in the Andes, a Colombian government army troop is sent to hold a strategic position below a former encampment. Their orders are terse and demand they remain around the base but don't venture into it. Their orders break down, followed by the chain of command, and the personal dynamics of this group of soldiers fracture around race, skin colour, distrust and status when a sole survivor is found in the camp who becomes the focus for The Squad's fears.imageTaking a soberingly open view of soldiers of war, The Squad offers a central focus of the friendship between two men within the group and the diverting development of that relationship as paranoia and prejudice come out to play. The soldiers are soon fighting each other and their philosophical state is often mirrored in sequences where bullets fly anywhere in the fog and they stumble in complete darkness whilst making their individual escapes.

In following this route and playing a supernatural theme at the same time, the debut of writer/director Jaime Osorio Marquez is an ambitious and intelligent psychological horror. The basic interplay between the male cast is well written and the only flaw to the film's gradual build to a climax is the question as to why these men don't just leave their posts after they have usurped their leaders.imageFinding a comparison for you, I would describe The Squad as following in the footsteps of [REC] with its use of darkness and a deliberately undefined threat. There are some small amounts of gore and a particularly unpleasant field hospital moment, but generally the scares are solidly creepy rather than gross. Good writing, terrific cinematography and fine shooting of exteriors lead to a classy, tense and affecting effort. Seriously recommended.

Tech Specs

Momentum give The Squad a decent region free release offering few extras but a solid transfer with impressive sound. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and the de-saturated image is very much in keeping with the intentions of the film-maker to offer a gritty, moody film. Contrast is especially important given how much of the film occurs underground or in near darkness, and I am pleased to say that black levels are good and that detail is very good for standard definition without excessive enhancement ruining the picture on offer.imageEqually as impressive is a 5.1 mix that offers splendid atmosphere, disturbing effects across the whole soundstage and punchy bass. Voices do come from where they are placed within the visual field and the clarity of the many unsettling noises and dialogue is unquestionable. Optional and well translated English subtitles are included as well.

Extras

Three trailers open up the disc for other Momentum releases, and the two extras for this feature are a short trailer and a reel of several short featurettes covering the making of the film. The featurettes include the shooting on location and the practicalities of getting 70 people 14000 feet up a mountain and keeping them safe, the training of the actors in military ways and some short interviews to camera from cast and crew.

Summary

The Squad is a successful intelligent horror film and Momentum release the film onto DVD with a very good transfer and excellent 5.1 sound.
Details and Specifications
DVD Video Review

Region: 0

Certificate: 15

Distributor:
Momentum

Running Time:
104 mins approx
Soundtracks:
Spanish DD 5.1

Subtitles:
English

Director:
Jaime Osorio Marquez

Main cast:
Juan David Restrepo
Mateo Stevel
Andrés Castańeda
-- more --
Ratings
Film
7
Video
8
Audio
8
Extras
3
7
About John White
John lurks in the shadows of Digital Fix reviewing films meant for people half his age and twice his intellect. The madder, the stranger and the more squalid a film the more likely he is to acclaim it the Citizen Kane of its kind. Apart from looking both startled and menacing, John is a former editor of the TV section at Digital Fix, you can find his scribblings there here. John can be found on Google Plus, and on Facebook too.


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