PussyCake - FrightFest UK Premiere Review
Director: Pablo Parés
Starring: Anahí Politi, Flor Moreno, Macarena Suarez, Sofia Rossi, Aldana Ruberto
Written by: Maxi Ferzzola, Hernán Moyano, Pablo Parés, Hernan Sáez
Produced by: Leonardo Guiliano, Simon Ratziel
Cinematography by: Matías Rispau
Original Score by: Pablo Fuu
A struggling all-girl rock band goes on tour and discover their worst problem is not just being forgotten by their fans.
There's been a lot of horror films in recent years that have tried to sell themselves as an 80s throwback and too often that just means throwing in some cool 80s style synth music and flooding the screen with neon lights. 'PussyCake' isn't set in the 80s and it doesn't try to sell itself as a throwback at all. However the blood and gore, well if you like cult classics like 'Night of the Demons', 'Return of the Living Dead', Lamberto Bava's'Demons' and even more popular stuff like Sam Raimi's 'The Evil Dead' then you gotta check out 'PussyCake' straight away.
PussyCake are Elle, Sara, Sofi, Juli and their manager Pato, a flamboyant alternative all girl rock band who are trying to rekindle their music careers with a brand new tour. Like most rock bands they love to party loud and party hard but Pato has arranged a "once in a lifetime" gig opportunity near the coast where some bigwigs from a record company will be in attendance. It's a one-off and they gotta be there on time and give it their best shot. So they jump in their van and take off, ready for their big chance.
We're introduced to Elle first, the lead singer of the band and our protagonist. She's happy to meet fans after the gig but one particular grabby male fan brings back some disturbing memories from a former relationship. Elle is the victim of domestic abuse and she's struggling to cope under the hot, attention seeking lights of the stage. Fortunately for her, her bands mates and her girlfriend Sara are there for her and always will be.
When the band arrive at the venue they soon release that there's nobody there to welcome them. Pato's contact isn't answering her calls and they're left to just wait and see what happens. But soon the truth of why the town is deserted hits them in the face like a steel pipe. Something has infected the town and they must survive long enough to find out how to stop it.
'PussyCake' is balls to the wall, energetic fun with highly impressive gore and makeup effects, helped by a fantastic turn from all the girls particularly the two leads Maca Suarez and Aldana Ruberto as Elle and Sara. It would be so easy to just write this little Argentinian splatter film off as a hollow, exploitative gore-fest but it is surprisingly profound with touching and emotional moments at the core of what it's trying to say. Deep down the film is about love and friendship and you actually really feel that amongst the girls, even though some of them are a bit caricature-like.
Our first real insight into what the hell might be going on here is when Juli pops some acid and goes for a nice stroll on a nearby beach. She's welcomed by a sea of human heads buried in the sand and then she's attacked by "something?". While all this is going on, Pato thinks she has spotted her friend Simon, who has arranged the gig, but when we see him up close it's clear this is not Simon. It's something entirely different. A monstrous, other worldly and rage-fuelled version of Simon with pale skin and red eyes. And he's drooling profusely. It looks like a gooey milk like substance or something you might find on a particular sub-category on Porn Hub.
The gang finally connect with Simon in a highly violent altercation and sadly Pato succumbs to his super strength as he rips out her insides in one swift punch and lays them all over the road. It's a glorious moment for gore fans and there's a genuine moment of sincerity afterward as Pato passes away.
Simon isn't a zombie, not in the traditional sense, but he does display zombie attributes. He moves and acts a bit like a zombie but instead of trying to bite his victims or eat brains, he basically vomits in their faces and mouths and this seems to be how he infects them. There's some sort of parasite attached to the back of his head that is clearly poisoning him. It looks like something that might've been scraped off the bottom of the deepest ocean floor but it might have something to do with a portal that was exposed in the opening sequence of the film. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that the film opens with a young boy attempting to finish some sort of highly advanced scientific experiment involving parallel universes and another dimension that swallowed up his scientist sometime ago. Presumably this incident is what has brought the parasitic creature into our universe, only we're never ever told this. And this non-explanation plays out as an advantage to the enjoyment of the film. We don't need to be told the where and the why and the how. Sometimes the beauty of this genre is the fact that things just happen and we get to go on this crazy ride with these characters without questioning every single little plot hole.
'PussyCake' didn't necessarily have me from the first few minutes but once we got into crux of the story I was hooked. As a huge fan of in-camera prosthetics and camera tricks and all that lovely gooey, magical stuff I was enamoured by the entire film, even by it's simplicity. It seems like a perfect midnight drive-thru experience. It essentially plays out similar to any other zombie-type survival film you already might be familiar with but it introduces a caped character, whose agenda is purposely vague, that eventually shifts the danger away from the zombie infection. This caped villain actually starts out saving the girls before turning on them. He looks like a steampunk, supervillain version of a Sith Lord like Darth Malgus and for the Star Wars fans out there I'm almost positive that whoever was in charge of the sound design may have borrowed one or more soundbites from the classic space opera, particularly the moans and grunts that this character makes when he is fighting.
I'm not sure how serious we're supposed to take the film but at no point is there any comedic elements thrown in just for giggles and the entire cast play their roles as straight as an arrow. At less than 90 minutes long 'PussyCake' absolutely flew by and by the end I was genuinely in awe of director Pablo Parés, who I was previously unfamiliar with, and how he and the team around him made me care about Elle and Sara and the other girls. Sadly we'll never know if PussyCake's next gig would've been the one that made a record company take a chance on them but if you give this film a shot, I know you won't regret it.
- Gavin Logan
'PussyCake' received its UK Premiere at FrightFest 2022 on August 26th and is available to stream on ScreamBox and VOD August 30th