Eye For Film >> Movies >> Avant Pétalos Grillados (2007) Film Review
Avant Pétalos Grillados
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
A black and white, experimental short shot on 16mm, Avant Pétalos Grillados atmospherically recalls classic American sci-fi of the 1950s with mutant creatures in small town surroundings, relying on old-school physical effects (masks and model-making) rather than computer-driven ones. The film opens with two seamstresses measuring a bodybuilder (another form of mutant body) for a suit before switching its attention to a scientific-looking building with an insistently-ringing phone and a silent group of people, each of whom is wearing headphones and in their own world.
An alien invasion then commences with the invaders first spotted as a single staggering silhouette in the shadows cast on the wall - an illustration of the film's style, which marries an exploration of interesting architectural shapes and spaces with subtle camerawork and a score infused with foreboding. The first clear image of the alien - an over-sized fly-like head, dressed in the lumberjack's shirt and jeans of American backwoodsmen - emphasises the humorous take on classic sci-fi, the sinister effect of the lurching body language notwithstanding. These aliens seem more intent on elimination - toting a shotgun apparently does not require opposable thumbs - than subjugation in relation to the humans they encounter.
Although less than 11 minutes long, the film packs in a host of strange and eerie imagery that lingers long in the mind - whether the stylish architectural spaces that eventually give way to rural ruins, the entangled piles of dead bodybuilders' limbs, or the strange domestication of the invaders (there is a great shot of three aliens standing patiently doing the ironing). Likewise the score develops from an initially bucolic and classical arrangement to an unsettling use of synthesisers as the sense of desolation grows onscreen. The future of the human race does not look to be a bright one.
A key influence on several of the Spanish filmmakers featured in the D'A Festival's (Im)Possible Futures strand (many of whom have worked with him in different capacities), three of (César) Velasco Broca's short films featured in the programme. Avant Pétalos Grillados is perhaps the best-known of his films outside of Spain, as aside from winning the Jury Prize for Experimental Short at Slamdance in 2007, the same year also saw the film become the first Spanish short in 36 years to be included in the Quinzaine at Cannes. It is available to view for free (along with many of his other films) on the Spanish VOD platform PLAT here.Reviewed on: 07 May 2015