Atroz Blu-ray Review

Possibly the most graphic Mexican horror movie ever made

Atroz is little more than extreme torture porn. The underground, Mexican horror film has some disturbing, graphic material of two killers torturing their victims to death. The movie it most recalls in impact is the notorious A Serbian Film. Atroz is that shocking in nature. It’s not a great movie, or even a good movie, but hardcore horrorhounds will likely want to catch the Spanish-language Atroz for its sheer brutality. Everyone else is warned to stay far away.

I’m not saying there isn’t an audience for this type of movie. Make no mistake, this is not mainstream filmmaking. If you thought Hostel was tame stuff, you might enjoy Atroz. Don’t walk into watching Atroz unless you are prepared to witness an absolutely dehumanizing bloodbath. It’s a brutal experience that pushes what is acceptable on screen even within the horror community. The MPAA would almost certainly give it an NC-17 rating, if not ban it.

Quantifying it as a film regardless of its graphic material, the narrative barely works. This is raw storytelling meant to shock viewers. It doesn’t completely work on a rational level. The gonzo direction by Lex Ortega provides shocking imagery that proves frighteningly realistic in scope. In true horror fashion, there likely is some sort of political allegory we are supposed to take from Atroz about the nature of crime and corruption in Mexico City. It’s too crude to work as a political statement but definitely critiques society within Mexico.

It’s not a movie for those with delicate sensibilities. Frankly, it’s not a movie for most people.

The 79-minute film opens with shots of Mexico City and the rampant crime that infests it. A pair of demented serial killers happen to be arrested for causing a traffic accident. A detective by the name of Juarez (Carlos Valencia) discovers these killers’ videotapes, which they stupidly carry with them. Goyo (Lex Ortega) and his partner have committed a string of horrific murders where they torture and kill victims, all recorded to videotape. This twisted “found-footage” is the heart of Atroz. Goyo is a remorseless psychopath and the footage is utterly shocking. The material is deprived and graphic.

Constructing a horror film around realistic snuff footage isn’t new but Atroz pushes past the limits of decency, breaking new ground. This is some of the most gruesome, realistic torture ever seen on screen. It’s not a movie for those with delicate sensibilities. Frankly, it’s not a movie for most people.

Think of Atroz as underground guerrilla filmmaking gone rogue. It’s not the polished product of a committee but one man’s twisted imagination.

Atroz Blu-ray screen shot 8

Video

Atroz is an independent horror film from Mexico, mostly consisting of fuzzy found-footage in its narrative. More importantly for its picture quality, most of its 79-minute running time is shown as rough video of two killers filming themselves on a camcorder. That translates into wildly erratic, inconsistent results. Expect little in terms of the typical contrast and definition seen on Blu-ray.

A few sharp scenes can’t make up for blurry shots with limited resolution and clarity. Torture scenes are particularly soft and murky, often obscuring the goriest details. It’s a conscious aesthetic that makes for terrible picture quality. This is poor video by the standards of Blu-ray. The worst scenes more closely resemble DVD quality than true Hi-Def video. Occasionally sharp moments look like fairly ordinary digital video.

The 79-main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. The aspect ratio does change depending on the scene, though its default 1.78:1 presentation is shown at 1080P resolution. Distributed by MVDvisual, it’s a Blu-ray of video that often dips below 1080P in detail and clarity.

Audio

The Spanish-language film’s audio comes in both DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0. Neither are great choices with a heavy industrial score dominating the mix. The surround option offers modest immersion with an oddly discrete channel placement. Dialogue is clearly heard but the audio design is fairly crude by American standards. This is adequate audio for low-budget filmmaking.

Optional English subtitles play in an off-white font.

Extras

This limited collector’s edition really taps into the horror collector’s market. It includes the movie on both Blu-ray and DVD, while also including the movie’s soundtrack on CD. The packaging is a well-designed tri-fold-out set that holds all three discs.

For the Mexican horror film, we get a complete ensemble of special features. They delve into the film with occasionally intriguing insights.

Atroz Short Film (14:25 in HD) – Director Lex Ortega’s original short from 2009 that eventually resulted in the full movie.

Director’s Commentary – Writer/Director/Actor Lex Ortega made several previous horror movies and gives this commentary in both Spanish and English versions. It’s fairly interesting and filled with anecdotes from behind the scenes.

Crowdfunding Video (03:54 in HD) – A promo hoping to sell the film.

Behind the Scenes (04:02 in HD) – A featurette with Ortega’s producing partner and others.

Music and Sound Featurette (04:34 in HD) Musician LSD describes his industrial sound.

Practical FX Featurette (03:43 in HD)

Production Gallery

Trailers – A litany of trailers for extreme underground Mexican films like American Guinea Pig and Atroz itself.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full-resolution 1080P screenshots taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered during the process. Patreon supporters are able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.