Aging right wing lunatics. Nubile women covered in explosive nitroglycerin. Extreme slow motion. These are some of the elements that make up Cold Sweat, aka Sudor Frio, the Argentinean entry in SXSW’s SXFantastic line-up. Literally explosive, this film will make you look at your elders totally different.
I got on the phone with director Adrian Garcia Bogliano, and we talked a bit about his entry in the midnight block.
One of the things that really sets your film apart from most other horror movies is the political element. What came first - the horror or the politics?
I think both. I always thought that genre films, especially genre films made outside of the United States, when you don’t have a star system and all that you have to put in some particular elements of your country. That’s what makes an interesting movie. For me it was very interesting to talk about the oppression, the people who were kidnapped in the 70s in Argentina. It’s a subject very close to me - I’m the son of two people who had to get out of the country because of their political opinions. I have four uncles who were kidnapped by the government, and they were killed. I always thought it was an interesting and powerful subject because there are still people who participated in these terrible crimes are still on the streets. And most of them are people who are unknown. There are some well-known persons who were involved in this, but there are also lots of people who nobody knows their names or their faces. It’s scary to think these people are free and you can find them buying groceries or you can be helping them cross the street because they’re elderly now.
The nitroglycerin in the movie is a great metaphor because it’s something from the past that’s explosive now. But it’s also interesting because it’s something I’ve never seen in a film like this, and it creates some incredible tension. How did you come to use that element?
I thought it was a good idea because it’s something that’s almost invisible. You could think it’s water. It doesn’t seem to be something dangerous in the first place. It doesn’t seem to be dangerous, but it’s very unstable - like these old men who are the killers, they don’t seem to be dangerous either but they are very unstable people. You don’t think that can be a big danger and it might be or it might be not. Sometimes the drops fall and they don’t explode. It’s not like an axe or something that will kill you. It’s this thing that can be dangerous or maybe won’t work.
The other thing is that I love the 1970s film of William Friedkin, Sorcerer. I wanted to translate that to a horror movie. Something very slow, that has to be slow motion, someone running through the house in slow motion. One of the things we have now in the last fifteen years with cell phones and lots of stuff it’s pretty difficult to put characters in a situation where they can’t communicate with someone and ask for help easily. I thought what if we had these characters in a house in the middle of the city with neighbors everywhere but we’ll put them in a position where they cannot run.
You mention that you have to find ways to have characters not use their cell phones - you go the opposite route and actually have the lead post a cry for help on his Facebook page, which I thought was really clever.
It was pretty funny and that’s probably the joke that works always in theaters. At the same time I don’t know if most people have any idea if they don’t have a phone how to ask for help through the internet. There are surely pages you can really go to ask for help, but I don’t think most people would think of that.
You have some incredible super slow motion shots in this movie. How many frames per second are we talking in some of those shots?
It was like one thousand frames per second. It’s this camera called Phantom, which is great. I don’t want to cry about we have little budget to make a movie or stuff like that - I’d prefer that people enjoy the movie - but the truth is that we had very little time and very little money to make the movie, but the one thing I wanted to keep through this whole process was this slow motion thing. We shot the film in 19 days, which is a very short period. I would have liked to have five or six days more but have the Phantom for three days, but we had to do all these camera things in one day. It was running like crazy because you have like a half an hour to do any shot with this camera because it takes forever to process the material when you have shot it. I was very obsessed with the ending of Zabriskie Point, and I wanted to create something like that where an explosion becomes something almost surreal.
Can you talk about the soundtrack? You have some driving hard rock on the soundtrack.
I wanted to make a soundtrack that was all based on Argentinean rock songs of the 1970s. But I couldn’t do that because in Argentina it’s very restrictive, supposedly to protect the musician, but you can’t use almost any existing song because it’s just too expensive. We used one and it’s called Tomato Juice. It’s a classic of the 1970s Argentina rock. I wanted to create something with those old rock songs but I couldn’t do it so I just picked that song. The main actor of the film, Facundo Espinosa, he was the one who actually made the whole score for the movie. I gave him a lot of reference for music of the 70s and the feelings I wanted to create and he really did a wonderful. It was very strange because it was the first time for me, and I don’t know if it’s happened on some other movies, but it’s the first time I worked with an actor who also made the music, so I didn’t have to tell him the feeling of every scene since he lived it.