The fact that Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ Bacurau won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival should immediately alert you that this is a movie to keep on your radar. You have one of the year’s must-see Latin American films on your hands simply by knowing that the Brazilian production reunites Mendonça Filho with his Aquarius star Sônia Braga, that it combines elements of a Western with The Twilight Zone, and that it manages to make pointed critiques about the state of affairs in the South American country. The title comes from the small town at its center. A dusty community in the middle of nowhere (whose existence soon disappears from digital maps of the area), Bacurau is on the verge of change: the 94-year-old matriarch has died. And with that, its inhabitants will have to face a number of unimaginable foes which include, among others, a character played by iconic villainous actor Udo Kier himself.
The first trailer opts to offer us mood rather than plot, which is best — as reviewers have noted — left unspoiled. Instead we get images that give us glimpses of the blend of genres that this Brazilian film is going for. A nighttime stampede of horses frightens a dog in the middle of town. An empty coffin left on the road is turned into pieces by a speeding truck. A child gasps in the dark. A number of people ingest a curious pill, while others seem to have unexplained modern earpieces. Plenty of guns set up a Western-style standoff. Pitch-dark scenes show us a town surrounded by nothingness. By the time you get to the final moments of the trailer, when a pair of the townspeople ask the camera “Do you want to live or die?” you get the sense that they’re not being hyperbolic at all. Check out the electro-scored trailer below.
Bacurau was supposed to screen theatrically Spring 2020 but has, due to the Coronavirus, opted for a fresh “virtual screening” release. Find out how to watch it online here.