When a film garners simultaneous comparisons to horror classics like The Shining and Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realist tearjerker The Bicycle Thieves, you might as well just hop online and pre-purchase tickets for the next showing. That’s because there’s no reason these two films should ever be uttered in the same sentence, let alone in reference to the same film. But when you see the trailer for Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’s Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor) it all kind of makes sense.
The 2011 Brazilian feature documents the travails of a middle-class Brazilian couple struggling to get by in an unjust economic system – hence the neo-realist references. Hubby loses his white collar job just as wifey embarks on a new challenge as a small business entrepreneur, and she quickly becomes the family’s primary breadwinner. Oh yeah, and the locale wifey purchased for her new business has a dark past and a carries haunting secrets. So, you know, The Shining.
The trailer gives us a sense of exactly how all this works, with a good part of the film’s slow-burning terror coming from images of raw meat, meat hooks, bizarre two-headed cows, and a strange blood-like substance spreading along the floor. Ah, and then there’s a massive meat mallet carried menacingly through a dark corridor. What any of this actually means is entirely up to your interpretation, but with the World Health Organization’s recent report on processed meats, animal flesh has perhaps never looked so frightening. Throw in a soundtrack that resembles the climax of a Mighty Ducks-worthy slow clap, and it’s all just very creepy.
Now, a full four years after Hard Labor premiered in competition at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, the film is finally making its way to New York audiences for theatrical run at Manhattan’s Cinema Village.
Hard Labor opens in New York on October 30, 2015.