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Other American Dream, The Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by William Weird   
Saturday, 12 January 2008

"The Other American Dream" -- Severed Cinema

AKA: "El Otro sueño americano"

Directed by: Enrique Arroyo
Written by: Enrique Arroyo
Produced by: Fernando Saenz de Miera
Cinematography by: Serguei Saldívar
Editing by: Diego Muñóz
Cast: Eduardo Gleason, Fermín Martínez, Amorita Rasgado
Year: 2004
Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish
Color: Color
Runtime: 10 Minutes
Now here’s a movie that’s so simple yet so effective it makes you wonder how it hasn’t been made until now. Enrique Arroyo’s “The Other American Dream” will make your blood run cold.

I was lucky enough to view this short film along with several others at a recent horror film festival. It was definitely one of the highlights in my opinion. Shot entirely from the point-of-view of a Mexican police officer’s squad car security camera, “The Other American Dream” details an encounter between the aforementioned Mexican police officer and a bottom class street prostitute. There’s really not much to say about this film in particular.  It’s a short, so it doesn’t last terribly long.  It’s really so simple that it just honestly does not sound like much the first time around.  But you have to see it to believe it.  It looks like an episode of “Cops” gone straight to the ninth circle of hell.

What seems at first like a routine scene of typical police bravado escalates into shocking true-to-life trauma.  As we sit, horrified and powerless, impotent to stop the evils and injustices playing out before us, we watch as the nameless Mexican prostitute is sadistically abused and graphically, aggressively, brutally raped right in front of our very eyes.  “The Other American Dream” is edgy, and that edge is a very hard, very sharp one.  It can be a real trial to watch.  The main reason for that is because, frankly, this film doesn’t really feel like a film.  It feels… real.  Coldly, callously real.  It feels like something you might see on a newscast (though what news station in the Western Hemisphere would actually air such truly disturbing footage is beyond me).  It doesn’t feel like fiction.  Maybe that’s because, in a way, it is, in fact, not fiction.  Okay, so this particular scene is fictitious, yes.  But it’s so gritty, so realistic, so simple, that you’ve got to ask yourself: does this really seem like such an out-there-concept that you can’t believe that this has happened, does happen, and will continue to happen right here in the real world?  No, it doesn’t seem that "out there".  Because it isn’t.  In truth, what “The Other American Dream” depicts is an increasingly common occurrence.  That kind of viciousness exists in all of us.  It exists all around us.  How many women are raped every single day?  Too many to count.  How many times a day does someone in a position of authority abuse their power for malicious means?  Again, too many to count.  How many people go missing, never to be found again, on any given day?  Still, too many to count.  How many times per day are the lower classes oppressed, held down, beaten, battered, and spit upon by those in control?  You guessed it.  Too many to count.  Although tagged onto the end of “The Other American Dream” are a whole host of statistics quantifying these unsettling questions, the truth is that these same things are happening all over the world, all the time, and more often than not… no one notices.  No one sees.  No one does anything to stop it.  And no one cares

The Other American Dream” works for the same reason that the “August Underground” movies work -- because they are believably realistic.  The line between art and reality is erased.  However, while the “August Underground” movies slowly, gradually, purposefully dab that line away, “The Other American Dream” obliterates that line in a single, explosive, razor-sharp moment.  This film is short, basic, blunt, and to-the-point, and never before has a point been so poison-tipped.  It hits you like an eighteen-wheeler then slips away back into darkness, leaving you alone.  And changed.  You’re a mess, a wreck, a mangled auto accident victim. Your psyche is bleeding and your mind is scarred. While even August Underground’s cruel realism was sometimes undermined by its own sense of showmanship, there are no eccentric sociopath serial killers here, no hacked off nipples nor mounds of bloody feces.  Instead, “The Other American Dream” depicts the face of evil with a decidedly formless human face.  The inference is obvious.  The face of evil is not the face of the knife-wielding, camera-toting lunatic.  The face of evil is the same as my face, your face.  You remember that guy who you saw bending down to tie his shoe at the grocery store earlier today?  His face is the face of evil.  Or how about your best friend, your own spouse, or a family member?

I saw “The Other American Dream” in a packed room, full of bloodthirsty horror fanatics.  But as this film played out before us, a great hush fell over the entire crowd.  Most people sat in silent awe, gaze transfixed on the screen.  Some people, clearly uncomfortable, could be seen fidgeting in their seats, often keeping their complete attention averted from the movie.  Many gasped and a whole horde of folks sat there the whole time with wetness welling in their eyes, their jaws slack and their hands over their mouths, at once shocked and moved.  A handful of people walked out.  If that's not a sign of a truly effective movie, then I don't know what is.

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ikader   | |2009-05-20 13:13:34
haven?t we?ve been hearing all these kinds of excuses defending this crap ever
since production started, and ever time more news came out those who are
boycotting this turned out to be right?
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