Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 81 minutes
Stranger Says: Warning: Chameleon is a disturbing film. If you are triggered by the portrayal of violent sexual assaults, take a hard pass on this one. If you enjoy feeling sick to your stomach about the lengths humans will go to exert power over other people… well, you’re fucked up, but so am I. A young man talks his way into a lesbian couple’s house the day after their party, where he was a guest of a friend of theirs. He spends most of the movie being polite and watching the women bicker and drink heavily, but about an hour in, you’ll be white-knuckling your way through. It’s the darkest place you can go, to imagine a person’s capability to destroy another life, psychologically and physically. The villain in this film is sadistic, but what he does has glimmers of the daily shit that regular people do to manipulate everyone around them. And the ending absolutely devastated me.
SIFF Says:Paulina begins putting away dishes from last night’s big party. Her partner, Paula, lounges in the yard, taking in the seaside view of their gorgeous estate. Although unhappy about Paulina’s impending cross-country move for work, they both decide to spend one last cozy day enjoying each other’s company. But then there’s a knock. What begins as a surprise visit from a party guest’s boyfriend, an apology, a bottle of wine, and an invitation to spend an hour in the garden soon turns into the women’s very own bourgeoisie nightmare. The more they talk to this young man, the more cracks Paulina sees in his exterior. When he goes to the restroom she snidely confides in Paula that she thinks he’s a phony―an irritating common gardener. But as quickly as the wine glasses empty, the man transforms from a soft-spoken handsome acquaintance into a predator who makes his way into their homes to brutalize their bodies and minds. This Chilean home-invasion thriller presents us with a villain who takes the prejudiced attitudes of the wealthy and shoves them back down their own throats with an explosively psychopathic vengeance. Soaked in sadistic social commentary and avoiding typical tropes of the genre, Chameleon is director Jorge Riquelme Serrano’s first gut-punching film.
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