Cold Sweat (Sudor Frio) (DVD)
Directed by Adrián García Bogliano
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
At the start of Cold Sweat (or Sudor Fríos for the purists), we learn through a montage of disturbing images that back in the 1970s a group of Argentine rebels stole twenty-five boxes of dynamite while the country was suffering under the terrifying reign of a dictatorship regime. Nothing ever came out about where those explosive went at the time, but as you can imagine, we're soon going to find out just where they made off to over thirty years ago.
Cold Sweat then takes us to the present day, where Roman (Espinosa) is looking for his ex-girlfriend, Jacquie (Velasco), who appears to have left him for some blonde guy she's been chatting with online behind Roman's back. Fortunately, he's got help in the form of his longtime friend Ali (Glezer), who is able to track down where this guy lives from his IP address. When they get there, the rundown house waiting for them isn't occupied by the towheaded hottie that stole Roman's girl; it turns out to be the residence of two old-timers named Gordon (Musa) and Baxter (Gioiosa), who lure women to their home so that they can torture and test their hostages' ideals while being threatened with the promise of an explosive death via the use of some rather unstable nitroglycerine the pair have tucked away in their ramshackle of a house.
Once Roman is forced to rescue his ex and his friend after they both get nabbed, the sheer lunacy of what unfolds inside Gordon and Baxter's home while the trio try to make it out and not explode while doing so makes Cold Sweat one of the more memorable indie thrillers I've seen in quite some time.
On the surface co-writer and director Adrián García Bogliano’s Cold Sweat seems kind of paper thin, and to be fair, the idea of a horror movie centered around two old guys armed with a stash of stolen dynamite they use to torture horny chicks does seem a bit outlandish. But to the credit of Bogliano and his cast, Cold Sweat still manages to deliver some serious suspense and creepiness, even if the movie suffers from a few minor plot holes and logic issues.
The centerpiece of Cold Sweat is undoubtedly the chase sequence that I would suspect was Bogliano's way of paying homage to William Friedkin's 1977 "carrying unstable dynamite through a jungle" flick Sorcerer, starring the always stellar Roy Scheider, although Bogliano's efforts here have a much more of an absurdist twist to them. But what truly makes Cold Sweat so damn entertaining is that while there's no doubt the filmmaker is paying tribute to Friedkin, I actually found Bogliano's vibe strangely reminiscent of Wes Craven’s criminally underrated The People Under the Stairs as who doesn't love a gaggle of crazed ghouls living in a basement?
The performances in Cold Sweat are pretty great all across the board. Both Musa and Gioiosa as the film's old world villains play off each other amusingly with a natural chemistry that manages to establish their characters as real threats even as the movie slyly points out the downside of both their ages and infirmity in comparison to the vigor of those they've captured. As the film's hero, Espinosa plays Roman as the sort of passive guy who's probably not the brightest bulb in the box but can think quickly on his feet when pushed, and Glezer's performance as smitten Ali comes off a bit over-the-top in her devotedness to Roman ("Go in a strange house to look for your cheating ex? Why I'd love to, guy I have a serious crush on!"), but overall the character works within the story Bogliano is telling here, and Glezer gives it her all.
The DVD release of Cold Sweat looks pretty solid, and the sound mix is fantastic; wishing I could have seen the film on Blu-ray instead of DVD is my only real complaint here. Dark Sky and MPI have provided a ton of bonus features for viewers, including a fantastic director's commentary (definitely worth a listen for aspiring independent filmmakers out there) and a few deleted and extended scenes that are definitely intriguing, but ultimately, them being left on the cutting room floor was smart on Bogliano's part since they don't do much to add anything to the overall story of Cold Sweat. There are also a poster gallery (fun stuff!), a trailer, teaser, TV spots and radio spots as well so pretty much anything fans of Cold Sweat could possibly want is presented on the DVD, ripe for the picking.
Cold Sweat is one of those movies that will undoubtedly leave fans divided, and there are valid arguments to be made on both sides. Having a taste for horror that skews off the beaten path, I found Bogliano's commitment to his insanity-filled thriller absolutely refreshing. If you can leave your expectations in check while giving the flick a shot, you should no doubt appreciate the utter lunacy of Cold Sweat's gritty nightmarish tale and have as much of a blast (pun intended) as I did with it.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5