Gritty does not even begin to describe co-writers/co-directors Luciana Garraza’s and Eric Fleitas’s film Scavenger (2021), a film that made me feel every blow exchanged between foes, smell every unshowered ruffian scavenging off of the film’s barren landscape, and taste the fresh blood that satiated the parched mouths of the film’s sorry characters. It would be an understatement to say that Scavenger is not for the faint of heart, as women and children are the main courses on the film’s menu of exploitation.
In a world far ravaged and barely hanging onto a semblance of society, a freelance killer-for-hire named Tisha (Nayla Churruarin) collects organs from unsuspecting people and sells them to a butcher, who she also gets assassin jobs from. One day, he takes her to an old woman who sends Tisha on a mission involving sex traffickers who own a brothel where they have a beautiful woman in their possession. After tracking down the woman, Tisha becomes caught up in a trap herself, one where she must exact her brutal revenge in order to free herself.
I would describe Scavenger as highly stylized, the kind of movie that puts detail into creating a world of its own — in the case of Scavenger, that world is a post-apocalyptic hellscape along the lines of a low-budget Mad Max: Fury Road, or even Bullets of Justice (REVIEWED HERE), topped off with a gender-neutral but alluring “Furiosa” like character as the protagonist similar to the aforementioned movies. The directors further made the film their own by doing an English-language dubbing, giving it that karate-movie-feel at times, while still imbuing the film with Latin influence as the title credits are in Spanish and the characters have accents. These aspects created a distinct setting, one that felt like a darker version of a Robert Rodriguez flick.
Scavenger is artfully explicit, going full-on exploitation and feeling like it belongs at a late-night grindhouse theater screening. The editing for Scavenger included a lot of sequences of unsettling images spliced in to show disorientation, a technique that often had a nauseating effect on me, but this effect was actually welcome, as it was in line with the film’s grungy aesthetic and feverishly intense atmosphere. Layered between all of its edgy scenes filled with boobs, gore, and violence is a story that is actually interesting, but directors Luciana Garraza’s and Eric Fleitas linger on these vulgar audience baits, in my opinion, for far too long, deviating from Scavenger‘s compelling revenge premise that should have been the central focus.
Sex scenes in movies, like most things in life, should be quality over quantity, but Scavenger, instead, practices the inverse of this principle, seeming more like a stylishly shot hardcore porno, primarily at the midpoint but progressively throughout the runtime. However, I loved the story, I loved the level of intense action achieved despite the film’s low budget, I loved the character aesthetic, practical effects for gore, and makeup for the mutant characters, and I even liked the characters, though each and every one was flawed and gruesome to the core. If you have either the stomach or the proclivity for extreme violence then there is a lot to be enjoyed in Scavenger, but since most of the violence is inflicted against women in the film, it is hard to say that it is an easy watch.
6 out of 10
This film is part of Fantaspoa, which ran for free on the streaming platform Darkflix, from April 9th through the 18th. All film screenings are geo-blocked to Brazil, with additional details available at www.fantaspoa.com.
Due for release to streaming platforms May 11th.