Cinepocalypse 2017 Review: MOTORRAD Is A Bore On Two Wheels

Unfortunately, this motorcycle slasher is a generic slog.

It takes about thirteen minutes for anyone to really speak in Motorrad, and the plot doesn’t start kicking in for another fifteen minutes after that. This first half hour or so offers audiences many opportunities to check out of the film, giving us very little reason to care about what’s happening or look forward to the horrors to come. The rocky Brazilian landscapes look beautiful, but after a while it’s hard not to ask “Okay, but why am I here?”

Eventually, Motorrad’s plot does kick in. A group of friends take a day trip to swim in a beautiful, remote Brazilian lake. Lagging behind them is Hugo, a youngster desperate to get in with his older brother’s crew. A mysterious lady also shows up. But their harmonious hang gets disrupted by masked bikers with machetes who, seemingly for no reason at all, want to kill the crew one-by-one.

Whenever director Vicente Amorim commits to action and horror filmmaking, the film is quite good. There are a few instances of fighting that feels a bit too chopped up and chaotic to make out, but for the most part Motorrad gets quite exciting when allowed to indulge in its genre. It’s just that the film treats these interludes as afterthoughts rather than the main attraction. Almost every time Motorrad does something exciting, we have to wait through another interlude of pensive silence. That'd be fine if anything interesting filled these quiet moments.

Amorim’s commitment to silence robs us of knowing our protagonists aside from broad strokes (younger brother, older brother, two lovers, mysterious stranger). The assailants raise interesting mysteries no one addresses, and before long we’re just waiting patiently for the end of the film to arrive. It feels very much like a short arbitrarily extended to feature length.

Motorrad seems satisfied to offer a generic slasher and leave to unexplained allegory any intriguing elements in brings up along the way. You barely know who you’re rooting for, and you understand who you’re rooting against even less. For someone absolutely starved to see a bunch of youngsters get massacred, it may have value, but neither the beautiful vistas nor the dirt bike shenanigans are enough to make Motorrad stand out as its own special thing, unless, perhaps you are using its sparse dialog as an aide to help learn Portuguese.

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