One of Latin America’s biggest genre propositions, the Latido Films-sold “Virus 32,” from Uruguayan director Gustavo Hernandez (“You Shall Not Sleep”), was unveiled Tuesday on the A Demain Cannes market platform.
The $1 million pic is a 50-50 Argentina-Uruguay co-production between Aeroplano, run by Sebastian Aloi, and Mother Superior Films, run by Hernandez and Ignacio García Cucucovich.
In addition to subsidy support from Argentina and Uruguay, the horror-thriller has funding from private investors and a pre-sale to Buena Vista for Latin American rights, including a theatrical release in Argentina and Uruguay. Rest of the world rights, including U.S. rights, are sold by Latido.
The video presentation of the new project featured producer Aloi, director Hernandez and screenwriter Juma Fodde Roma.
The story unrolls in a 24-hour period, and is shot in the 13,000 sq. ft. abandoned Neptuno Sports Club in Montevideo. It was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and shooting is currently on standby because of the pandemic.
The story revolves around a new virus which transforms people into intelligent, ultra-violent, extra-fast zombie hunters. One of the lead zombies is played by Esteban Lamothe (Netflix series, “Puerta 7”)
A single mother Iris, played by Malena Sanchez (“De Martes A Martes”), is the night guard of the abandoned sports club, who has her daughter, Tata, with her when the outbreak begins. Zombie hunters invade the complex, as she tries to recover her daughter.
Aloi explained that the high-concept element of the film is that after each attack the zombies are left incapacitated for 32 seconds, hence the title.
Hernandez described the film as a “sort of indoor road movie, where we discover each amazing space along with the protagonist.”
The Neptuno Sports Club located in front of the port in Montevideo’s historic quarter is a key character of the film and Hernandez says that it took them 6 hours to see all the different parts of the complex, which include two Olympic-size swimming pools.
The Covid-19 pandemic brings extra resonance to the project, said Hernandez: “What we are experiencing now through the global pandemic has helped us understand this fear, which was only fiction, but is now part of our lives. The pandemic did not only attack people’s health but also the world’s economies. As a result many cities see violence and murder go up. “
Aloi said it is about a mother trying to protect and reconnect with her daughter after a tragic event in their family and also the symbolic importance of Neptune as the water god, given that the protagonists are trying to escape to the sea.
The pic will feature long sequence shots, which Hernandez said aim to “make the audience breathe and feel the fear as the mother is feeling it.”
Fodde added: “The movie aims to be a tense, visceral experience. Audiences should leave the theater with aching muscles.”
The ultra-fast intelligent zombie hunters will be played by actors who have contemporary dance training, thus adding to the gymnastic agility of the scenes.
Aloi will collaborate with foreign CGI experts and sound designers, who have worked on Hollywood horror films, to try to achieve a look never previously seen in Latin American films.
Fodde says that influences include Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” in terms of mixing drama and adventure with very tense horror scenes, and the French horror pic, “The Horde,” by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher, in terms of the single location.
Latido’s CEO, Antonio Saura, said that the pic is aligned with his company’s interest in “auteur genre” pics: “The subtle lines between authorship and genre are slowly disappearing. More and more, audiences are looking for the extraordinary in movies, what makes them different from the rest, and this opens a great world of inspiration to a new generation of authors to explore the world of the genres and bringing a new point of view, both in narrative and mise en scene”
Oscar Alonso, Latido Film’s head of acquisitions concluded: “Director Gustavo Hernandez and scriptwriter Juma Fodde use genre to make the characters have fear of the unknown, something which of course has a clear resemblance in today’s COVID-19 world.
And they do that, as with the filmmaker’s Directors Fortnight debut ‘The Silent House,’ through long shots which allow us to feel all the tension a mother and a daughter suffer during 24 hours where their only option of survival is the 32 seconds the zombie hunters find peace after every attack, building up to an explosive finale.”