Although a short film, Tundra covers the bases with world-building and allegorical imagery that could intrigue audiences into wanting to see more from director José Luis Aparicio Ferrera. He accomplishes more than many may be capable of with a longer runtime. His vision is clear and seems intentionally open to interpretation in the best way possible. He presents questions and leaves them for us to ponder.
We open with lonely man Walfrido (Mario Guerra), who has been having dreams of a beautiful woman eclipsed in a red glowing light. A strange mass is slowly engulfing his apartment and he barely pays it any attention as he leaves for work. His job is a miserable one as he informs a family they owe money for the electric bill and the father is pleading with him to give them more time. Guerra’s performance is impressively realistic as he doesn’t relish in his job but points out that the family is using electricity to power the television, lights, etc. during the day. He doesn’t overcompensate but plays it straight with a detachment that many will find relatable as we explore the city with him . And herein lies a sad look at how the world operates, though the film is mostly concerned with creating a striking version of Cuba. Walfride’s own apartment has no lights on and no sense of warmth for him and he is trying to justify taxing a poor family further in a staunch look at economics.
In fact, the whole city seems to be lacking any sort of comfort for its residents. Massive parasitic creatures lounge in the sun, the art direction by (Pepe Reyes) gives us walls full of flyers and tall rundown apartments and it all feels real to the point you could be sweating and coughing on dust just by watching it. Walfride walks down the road to the office and we are given one of the strangely best looks at the human experience.
How often has our own jobs required taking something from others? Can we use our own sacrifices to justify making others do the same? He’s a part of an endless system crying out for change and being so rooted in the real-world, Tundra is horror at its most depressing. The only source of comfortability for him comes from the bar where he goes to meet the woman from his dreams.
Here the cinematography by (Gabriel Alemán) shines as we see the mysterious woman arrive with the red lights emanating from behind her as she dances in front of Walfride, seeming to indicate both desire and danger in equal measure. He’s broken, driven only by his desire for companionship and the actor and story drive this home in an ending that is perfectly bitter. Other younger characters express optimism where Walfride has none left, which brings a visualization to depression that resonates deeply. Of course the film doesn’t have any sort of answer to the questions, but it brings a blunt awareness to eroding societies and knowledge is half the battle.
Follow HorrOrigins on Social Media