Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Best not to fool with Mother Nature


The term Earth Mother takes on a frightening dimension in South African director Jaco Bouwer's Gaia, a movie that fits into a genre some critics have dubbed "eco-horror." Though mysterious and eerie and a trifle ambiguous, the movie's main point is relatively simple: We've been consuming the Earth for so long that it's time that the tables were turned. In this movie, the Earth consumes us -- or least some of the movie's characters. Be particularly wary of fungi. Two forest rangers (Monique Rockman and Anthony Oseyemi) are doing their observational duties in a dense forest. When they’re separated, Rockman's Gabi encounters a father-and-son combo (Carel Nel and Alex van Dyk), a duo that has abandoned civilization to spend time trying to placate forest forces. Bouwer artfully sets us up to view this duo as a murderous threat but the story takes a less expected turn, developing a relationship between Gabi and the two men who have been made-up to look as if they've been eating forest cuisine far too long.  Bouwer knows his way around a haunting image, receiving considerable help from the movie's cinematographer, Jorrie van der Walt. There's gore and surreal images of folks whose bodies have been invaded by floating mushroom spores. The story thins out considerably upon reflection but mood and overview (nature is mad and refusing to take it anymore) make Gaia into something more than routine horror. In Afrikaans and English.

No comments: