Review: Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman / Cert: 18 / Director: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza / Screenplay: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza / Starring: Fernanda Urrejola, Matías Oviedo, Jorge Alis / Release Date: 27th September
Along with found footage, grindhouse imitation films are starting to wear out their welcome. Now that he has been there and done that with the martial arts and superhero genres, director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza has turned to Chilean grindhouse homage. This may have its roots in early 80s exploitation, but the style is very much reminiscent of the video game Grand Theft Auto.
A hapless gaming-addicted DJ, who lives with his mother and works at a club owned by a mobster, overhears his boss Che Sausage (yep...) planning to kill an assassin known only as ‘the Machine Gun Woman’. Due to his eavesdropping, he is pressed into going on a one-man mission to bring Sausage the woman’s head. On his journeys, he encounters an underworld of elite assassins and finds that killing this beautiful woman may prove difficult. This is all presented with on-screen text informing the audience of how much the bounty on each criminal is worth, as well as giving us indications of when each mission begins and ends and whether it’s a success or a failure, just like a sandbox crime game.
Although it commits the usual sin for this kind of thing, where it starts all scratchy and damaged and remarkably becomes pristine digital footage after five minutes, it’s clear that Espinoza loves this stuff. Bring me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is like a weird mash up of Desperado and something like Gamer. There is the odd bout of nasty violence (a whipping death is especially wince-inducing) and an attempted rape, but mainly this is all about a leather-clad beauty holding a gun and a wet dreaming wimp becoming a man – and it’s just as silly as it sounds. The camera work echoing Grand Theft Auto is really spot-on, even down to the angle it views the cars you would drive as a player of the game. Again, it’s clear that there’s major affection for this behind the scenes.
It may be amusing for the subject of a short film, but at some point you start to wish BMTHOTMGW would gather weight and momentum. It almost feels like a test for a longer and more ambitious film that Espinoza wants to make. Everything is so lightweight despite the violence that you never really feel your pulse quicken the way it should. Even a last act kidnapping fails to grip which is a shame because there is a lot of love and invention that never coalesces into a satisfying whole. This is no doubt a film best enjoyed when stumbled upon after the pub one night a few years down the road.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10