Review: Apaches (2013)

With Apaches, and similarly a film that shall be reviewed tomorrow, the tendency of genre categorization here is again to attempt to pigeonhole a film into a genre-specific spot based on American aesthetic mores. While it can still be argued that American cinema, Hollywood and independent cinema alike, do set global genre expectations – foreign films often eschew cozily fitting in predetermined slots the same way many genre films here do. When I hear the word “thriller” used to descibe a Hollywood film I usually see it a catch all: a film with crime and/or suspense elements that isn’t quite a drama, cape, horror film or another more specific type.

Apaches certainly seems like it has very traditional bones:

A group of beautiful but morally bankrupt teenagers live the fast life in the dark side of beautiful Corsica, but things spiral out of control when one of their number wants to confess their crimes. -IMDb

However, while the plot points in and of themselves may seem familiar for a thriller the rendering thereof, the mise-en-scène and editorial approach are more removed. Communicating this moral bankruptcy is mostly accomplished by examining these characters on the surface rather than digging in deeper. Yet that’s not uncommon. Combine that with some elements being near afterthoughts or occurring between scenes and you see evidenced a different tack than one is used to.

The most common-seeming sequence would be the inciting sequence. This approach in and of itself is not inherently an issue or a downfall. The issues come when there’s less of a probe, when we’re focused more on a place than people (especially a place scarcely appearing on films) there’s an untapped potency being ignored. Definitions could be set or reset, a world built in any number of compelling ways when there is truly no shorthand for us. Instead we get the world through a window approach that doesn’t let us in. A callous series of acts and consequences viewed coldly, presented factually as if they’d have intrinsic weight. A weight that would be be redoubled by its aloof far-too-cool ending. Instead that salvo reads as more of an anomaly than anything else.

With this film we’re getting the anatomy of a crime, and a bit of the environment that breeds these attitudes in these characters, but not enough of why they develop the attitudes and the struggle or lack of struggle they have with that notion. It’s a blasé rendering of blasé criminals that seems to insist its existence is enough to merit my emotional investment. That much doesn’t work.

I frequently discuss the fact that I greatly dislike comparative analysis. I have an issue of it on many levels the main one being that it could judge a film by goals its not trying to accomplish. However, sometimes there are fairly intangible feelings that these comparisons can encapsulate. Here it felt to me like this was Spring Breakers without the artistic verve. That verve is all that kept me at all interested in that film and this film had none of it.

I can unequivocally state that I don’t find this to be a thriller in the traditional sense. It didn’t work for me for the reasons listed above, they may work for you for the same reasons, but I just couldn’t engage more than the characters seemed to engage in their own actions.