Undergods is a bleak movie making its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. Set in a dystopian future, the movie sees two men swap stories about moral decay and corruption. These exchanges are centered around the unforgiving world they appear to live in. There is also an interesting recurring theme among all of the tales of dysfunction.
Even before the film properly starts, director Chino Moya lets audiences know what is in store visually. The landscape is bleak and desolate. The setting is a washed out greyish blue. All color seems to have been washed away from this future (with one notable exception.) Despite the drab setting, Undergods has a great look to it that remains the entirety of the movie.
The film is broken up into three stories. Each one provides some world building and gives an idea of what the denizens of the future are like. In the first tale a couple takes in a house guest who soon reveals his true intentions. The second story is a story about a swindle gone wrong. The final part of Undergods comes full circle in a more fleshed out segment.
Each story works to varying degrees of success. The first story is the most engrossing but is also short and ends suddenly – an issue seen throughout Undergods. The second and third stories do the best job of world building. That being said, the middle section does use an odd narrative device. Each story does a good job of initially engaging the audience, but are also in constant danger of losing them.
Taken at face value, Undergods is an inconsistent movie. The structure can get confusing. The three tales are supposed to be interwoven, yet the second segment is a literal bedtime story, for instance. Individually, the stories end suddenly and are unsatisfactory. When looking deeper into the stories, the film fares much better. More than just a series of scary stories, Undergods is more about the themes contained in them. Each story deals with what people will do and accept for material needs. There is also a feeling of loneliness throughout the entire film.
It is at this level that Undergods is a success. The meaning within the stories within the story are the highlight of the film. Chino Moya does excellent work behind the camera. There is a lot of promise and each tale becomes more in depth and integral to the overall theme Moya is trying to convey. The question becomes is that enough for an enjoyable movie?