Fantasia International Film Festival: Undergods (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Undergods (2020) is a movie that is quite difficult to explain or attempt to discuss. Writer and director Chino Moya’s film is a series of vignettes that are connected through a dystopian universe. The audience is taken on an otherworldly adventure through a parallel Europe that is falling apart. Each story seems to imply a second world or a hidden universe that directly impacts a world that seems almost familiar. It is a unique journey, and not an easy one to experience. 

Two men (Johann Myers and Géza Röhrig), whose jobs appear to be picking up corpses off the street, are discussing their dreams. Their discussion leads to seeing Ron (Michael Gould) and Ruth (Hayley Carmichael) – who appear to be part of one of the men’s dreams – allow a new neighbor (Ned Dennehy) in their otherwise vacant building to stay with them while he awaits the building manager to come and let him in. The lines of reality are blurred a few times in this film, allowing the audience to interpret much of what happens while offering little answers. This is not a problem, of course – but if you prefer to know exactly what is going on, this film probably won’t scratch that itch. 

The next vignette focuses on Hans (Eric Godon), whose daughter goes missing, and he suspects that it is the consequence of a business deal that he manipulated. As a result of his actions, he pursues her on his own. This is where reality starts to bend in on itself, and the film starts to make the audience ponder whether or not parts of it a dream or reality. What’s real, and what’s fake? The final story helps to clarify much of the dynamic of this world, as Sam (Sam Louwyck) returns to his home after being locked up for fifteen years. His former life has been altered, and now he tries to find out where he fits in…sort of. 

The overall presentation of the film fits the dystopian look quite well. Colors are washed out, and the world itself is in shambles. Remnants of what looks familiar are everywhere, but things are definitely not in a good place. The production design goes a long way to sell the concept of the world these characters are trying to survive, but the story isn’t as easy to follow. It’s worthy to note the powerful synth score by composer Wojciech Golczewski. It helps establish the vibe from scene to scene. 

Undergods definitely toys with some interesting ideas, but I found it to be more perplexing than enjoyable. Sometimes dystopian films really click for me, and I’m on board from beginning to end. Moya’s film shows some creativity and promise, so it’s worth a watch. Undergods earns the Decent Watch rating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s