Think of everybody you know and love – from your (hopefully) loving and supportive parents to your sister – the one all of your friends secretly want to bang. Now think of EVERYBODY you have EVER interacted with – from the cop who gave you your first speeding ticket, to the girl with braces who gave you your first (terrifying) blowjob, to the guy at 711 that smiles WAY too much. Now, what do ALL of these individuals have in common?
They are all going to die.
Death, as the quote goes, is a part of life – the final stop on this crazy journey, and what better way to view it than through the multiple perspectives of Nacho Cerda’s insane trilogy of short films, which this writer dubs the ‘Trifecta of Death’ – TheAwakening, Aftermath, and Genesis. Nacho claims that the first film represents death from the perspective of the one who died, the second film represents the physical aspect of death, and the third film represents the point of view from those that were left behind. So call your mom to tell you love her, find that picture of your hot sister your friends keep trying to steal (Why is it in the bathroom again?), and try not to think of that guy at 711, as we dive deeper into Nacho Cerda’s visions of death.
This trilogy starts withThe Awakening, an eight-minute film centered on a student sitting in a classroom – coincidentally the EXACT same classroom from John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. This student, after just receiving a failing grade on an assignment, appears lose touch with his reality and falls asleep. When he awakens, his fellow classmates, and teacher (played by none other than Nacho Cerda himself) are frozen in time – just like that 1960 Twilight Zone episode, Elegy, and later in the Wes Craven directed 1985 Twilight Zone episode, A Little Peace and Quiet.
The student walks around the room of his frozen cohorts and cannot figure out what is happening – nor can he leave, as he discovers the door is sealed shut, as are all the windows. Suddenly, flashbacks of his life – memories with his parents – flash before him and he snaps out of his trance, seeing the teacher giving him CPR on the floor. He is watching himself die, and is lured by an angel (devil?) to his final destination.
This first entry of the trilogy features no gore at all – it was a student film, made in two weekends, which Cerda had no idea he would elaborate on with his next two films. The film is most assuredly a one-time view, especially when compared to the next two entries, kind of like how one has to see Human Centipede to appreciate the MUCH better second installment.
The next entry, Aftermath, is to Nacho Cerda what Audition is to Takashi Miike – the film that really put him on the radar in the world of unique film. Forget that eight-minute featurette approach, this bad boy is thirty minutes long and features some of the sickest, most vile acts ever recorded.
The film starts with a slow pan of a mutilated dog directly after the audio of a heartbeat and a car accident – sometimes, it’s the more subtle things – laced with Mozart’s Lacrimosa beautifully played over the visuals. We are suddenly in a morgue and witness two pathologists do their thing – featuring some of the most AMAZINGLY realistic autopsy footage EVER shot next to TOETAG’s Murder Collection V. 1.
The funny thing about the first half of Aftermath is that to these gents, this is just a regular Tuesday – grabbing brains from recently propped-open skulls, slicing through sternums to reveal yellow adipose tissue, and systemically removing organs to be weighed – these guys get PAID for what other people are called sociopaths for. Another aspect that really sticks with a viewer, at least in the first half is the fact that these bodies are no longer people – they no longer have identity – no longer are they Mike or Jennifer or Maria, but rather sacks of bloody meat that need to be dissected and charted.
The second half involves the indulgences of our main protagonist (antagonist?) who decides to fly solo while performing the autopsy of a young woman. He immediately sexualizes the process by rubbing a long knife all over her naked, nubile body. Of course the knife is a phallic symbol, and any ambiguity of that is quickly put to rest as the young, dead woman is violated with said knife. Her exposed organs are sexually felt up (is that like getting to second base?) as the pathologist masturbates furiously- don’t act like you’ve never done it. He saves the best for last in a climax (pun intended) that really raises (or lowers) the bar in fucked up cinematic history.
This is a beautiful film that shows, and hopefully instills some fear about, how little control one has over their body once they are dead. The revolting thing about this film is that nobody will ever know what this pathologist has done; she is just sewn up and packaged with the rest of the meat – her last violations never exposed to her family crying in the next room.
Closing up the trilogy is Genesis – a beautifully shot film centered around a man (played by the pathologist in Aftermath) who lost his wife in a car accident – could she be the woman you just saw violated in Aftermath? He decides to build a statue in her likeness, and as the statue becomes more and more an image of her, it starts to show human features – such as bleeding through the cracks. Is he going insane? As his statue of his missed misses gets more and more real, he himself turns more and more into stone. One could argue that the film is a metaphor for somebody experiencing grief – the more one thinks about somebody who has passed (making the statue more real) the more they become paralyzed by the grief (turning into stone.)
The gore is very subdued in this dark romantic film – if you want more gore with a similar story, one recommends Mermaid in a Manhole – one of the Guinea Pig entries. However, if one can appreciate a horror film that does not rely on gore to tell the story – something that relies on emotion rather than shock value, then check out Genesis – the most beautiful of the three Nacho Cerda shorts.
Death happens to us all, and there are many ripples and side-effects as a result of it. These films show three different perspectives of a theme we are all too familiar with in the world of horror films. Will you dig it? If you can appreciate a horror movie that is rooted in the beauty of chaos and doesn’t rely on campy stalkers or horrible dialogue (there is no dialogue in the entire trilogy) then by all means, indulge, just make sure your significant other does not walk in – some scenes would be rather hard to explain.