NNWIJ: Undocumented

Director: Chris Peckover

Notable Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Alona Tal, Yancey Arias, Greg Serano, Kevin Weisman, Peter Stormare

Rating: R

Review:  “This definitely isn’t where I parked my car…”  Scotty from EuroTrip sure has himself in quite the pickle this time.  Established like a political Saw, Undocumented takes Machete‘s anti illegal immigrant satire into much darker territory.  Circling around a group of grad students shooting their senior thesis film, the plan was to cross into America covertly while accompanying producer Davie’s (Serano) Mexican family and documenting the journey.  In mid travel, a group of right-wing “uber-patriots” take the true Americans hostage along with the now illegal U.S. citizens.  Locked away in a heavily guarded compound by the radical militants, head show runner Z (Stormare) agrees to let the students go as long as they film his band of psychopaths explaining their purpose while demonstrating their work.  Propganda for recruiting if you will.  Director Travis (Mechlowicz) has to keep his crew on point if they are to walk out alive, watching helplessly as innocent Mexicans are slain merely for wanting a better life.  The debate rages on whether illegals should be punished and how severely (see Arizona), but Undocumented takes lingering conservative feelings to Hollywood extremes.  Peckover mixes some first person documentary style footage with normal fly on the wall third person views, creating an intense third act as the handheld cameras are dropped by our characters and drama mounts.  Honestly I was expecting the film to fade out and finishing up with a written explanation scrolling the screen, but instead the film kicks back with normal cinematography and wraps the remaining student’s journey up without loose ends.  Villain Z had a familiar tone all film and given his masked face I was forced to guess his true identity, but of course Peter Stormare was my first and correct assumption.  The crazy Swede knows his way around mentally unstable foreign maniacs, and now he can add deranged American to his resume of evil, delivering as usual.  Undocumented won’t be solving any debate on controlling the border though, as emphasis here lays more with torture than reason.  Hard to accept people like Z could exist in reality, but then again it’s hard to believe Charlie Manson or John Wayne Gacy existed as well.  Can we really write off the fact in some extremist circumstances irrational modern-day Minute Men can’t lose their cool and take their job to a new level?  Believe that and Undocumented becomes more of a warning.  But accept the film for horror exploitation under drastic circumstances, and Undocumented is pretty run of the mill.  My biggest gripe was with character thought processes, writing arcs for characters completely ignoring already built personalities.  Not sure about you but if a man with a gun who I’ve watched kill someone already gives me orders with the prospect of life as a result, my ears are wide open.  Sure, argue he’ll lie and you’re dead already, but is there any escape from what is essentially a heavily guarded prison run by lunatics?  A rare case where playing it safe seems most logical, our characters did everything but.  Flawed script mentality doesn’t exactly kill this controversial thriller, but one by one these kids certainly don’t help their situation.  Undocumented ends up being interesting and different, yet nothing calling for elated praise.  Build a wall to keep out or let it walk freely in, won’t make a difference for most.  With peaked interest though, Undocumented could provide a solid change of pace.  Your choice!

Netflix Rating: 3/5

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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