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Undocumented - IFC Films Print E-mail
User Rating: / 6
Written by Richard Taylor   
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
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Directed by: Chris Peckover
Written by:
Chris Peckover, Joe Peterson
Produced by:
Keith Calder, Josh Finn, Jessica Wu, Evan Wilson
Cinematography by:
Matt Gulley
Editing by:
Glenn Garland, Jim May
Special Effects by:
Garnett Burk
Music by:
Brian Cachia
Peter Stormare, Scott Mechlowicz, Alona Tal, Yancey Arias, Greg Serano, Kevin Weisman
1h 36min

Studio: Sheperd Glen Productions
Distributor: IFC Films

The found footage movies that have been emerging on the scene since the early 2000's have become more and more prevalent. Undocumented is an independent, low budget, but extremely sleek, sharp and well-tailored found footage/POV suspense/thriller that delivers the visceral goods with no mercy. It is not without its flaws, but which I can look past and focus on all the good things the movie has going for it as the whole package. The content being so controversial and sensitive, the director and co-writer Chris Peckover have taken a genre such as the literally shaky found footage/POV style of film making, layered it with an original idea and story and has mercilessly unraveled it so uncomfortably in front of the viewer’s eyes. I love the idea of the movie. It’s dark, cold, and insensitive and it puts me front row and center to behold all the unspeakable atrocities that unfold. Originality is a cruel mistress that raises her fettered head once in a while.

Undocumented explores the topic of illegal immigration -- something that I personally am not familiar with, most of which I have heard about or watched on the news. There are the countless brunt of jokes in both media and "around the water cooler." In reality, immigration is a serious topic. All of the people fighting to get into a country of freedom, which most who already dwell in, take it for granted, all in the name of freedom and making a better life for themselves and their families. When the system doesn't work, there are those who decide to take matters into their own hands. In the case with Undocumented, the illegal immigrants are finding their own way to America, and on the other side of the border there is a group of legal immigrants and born American citizens who are taking it upon themselves to stop them; vigilante justice if you will. Looking at it from the point of view of the immigrants, you see their families, not unlike North American families, with hopes and dreams for better opportunities. You see their children, wives and parents all struggling and you sympathize. On the other side of the coin, we have a group of right wing elitists that feel it is their duty to stop the spread of the "plague" of illegal immigrant at any cost.

The title Undocumented applies to the term used to describe an "illegal," someone who has no papers or "documents" and has entered a country illegally. This movie really struck a chord with me and has received a lot of positive press. The content is fresh and a tale of the recent times intertwined with reality, the real horror of society, a group of well-armed "patriots," preying on these people all in the name of legal immigration, to make the United States a better place to live.

The plot focuses on a group of young filmmakers who are on a mission. They want to make a difference, but more importantly, deliver a great film. One of the crew, named Davie (Greg Serano, Terminator Salvation), is an legal immigrant himself, and Davie's cousin Alberto (a familiar face on TV, actor Yancey Arias who surprisingly was big on the 1980's hit show Knight Rider with The Hoff) and family are attempting to illegally cross the border. The problem I have with this scenario right away is, why can't Davie help his cousin legally cross, instead of endangering him and his family, the film crew and everyone else? Our film crew's production follows the attempt of the illegal crossing, which eventually turns sour. The group end up in the hands of a psychotic patriotic group, who have taken it upon themselves to deter and dispose of illegal immigrants. Alberto and family are seized and chained up like animals. The children are supposedly set free and the film crew, led by actor Scott Mechlowicz (Euro Trip, Mean Creek) are forced to film and endure the torture and execution of the many detained illegals. Mechlowicz comes off as a pretty boy in this role but he is likable and sympathetic towards the immigrants. He is compassionate and genuinely concerned for his friends’ safety.

The film crew are given a tour of the facility and the actions portrayed by the right wing group are repulsive and offensive, as they have in-house slaves who are loyal to them, some of which they give petty rewards. Davie's cousin Alberto, and his wife are eventually targeted and tortured in a twisted game, where non-English speaking Alberto is asked a series of questions from the official immigration test. Every question that he gets wrong, his wife's limbs are literally stretched on a torture rack. The leader of the twisted group goes by the moniker Z and is played by familiar character actor Peter Stormare (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Armageddon, etc). Stormare is no more American than Jackie Chan and his accent shows, but what makes it all the more demented is the fact that he himself is an immigrant, but got into the United States legally. Stormare and his men see it as their duty to stop the scum from invading their beautiful country.

Undocumented is an unflinching look at real world horror. The monsters are people with a set of instilled values; a cause which they are blindly willing to kill for. It’s offensive, violent and in some instances despicable, but it toys with your emotions and captures your attention. Undocumented is a wonderful low budget independent, raw production with the right chops.



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