23rd Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘Impossible Crimes’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Daniel Alvaredo, Federico Bal, Guido D’Albo, Sofía Del Tuffo, Gustavo Pardi, Carla Quevedo, Marcelo Sein | Written by Nora Leticia Sarti | Directed by Hernán Findling

impossible-crimes-poster

Directed by Hernan Findling, this Argentinian thriller has an intriguing set-up in its central idea of a detective tasked with solving impossible crimes. However, it quickly becomes clear that the film has precisely zero interest in solving said crimes, instead choosing to tell a painfully over-familiar story that most viewers will guess immediately.

The story centres on Lorenzo Brandoni (Federico Bal), a detective who appears to be the world’s unluckiest man. First, he loses his sister to cancer, and then he crashes his car on the motorway, killing his wife and child. To escape his pain, he throws himself into investigating a series of impossible crimes, such as a woman who’s apparently drowned in a closet. Then a young nun (Sofia del Tuffo as Sister Catarina) shows up in his office, claiming responsibility for the crimes. Is she possessed, or perhaps suffering from some sort of religious delusion? Or is there something else going on?

The performances are a little frustrating, to say the least. Wearing a perpetual scowl, Bal gives Brandoni just two characteristics: mean and moody. That might be an understandable choice, given the character’s recent history, but it makes him a difficult character to engage with on an emotional level.

Similarly, del Tuffo never finds a consistent note for Sister Catarina – one minute she’s a helpless innocent, the next a mysterious, cryptic figure. At one point Impossible Crimes seems to indicate that she is indeed possessed, but then apparently abandons that idea once it’s served its purpose for a creepy moment or two. Either way, the film tries to push an emotional connection between Caterina and Brandoni that simply isn’t there on screen, making their interactions something of a slog.

On a script level, the crimes Brandoni is called upon to investigate aren’t even all that interesting, which is just as well, because he makes no effort to solve them whatsoever. There’s a central mystery here, to be sure, but its solution will only merit groans from the audience, rather than the presumably intended gasps. On top of that, the eventual reveal is further undermined by being dragged out for several minutes, in the most mawkish manner imaginable.

In fairness, Findling establishes a suitably gloomy atmosphere, in collaboration with cinematographer Eric Elizondo, aided by some subtly claustrophobic set design. There are also very few people around (for example, Brandoni only appears to have one colleague), an unsettling touch that works surprisingly well.

On a similar note, Impossible Crimes makes the most of its presumably low budget with its effects shots and the first of the impossible crimes is admittedly creepy. The problem is that, having established such a moment, it’s never referred to in the script again, leaving the feeling that the filmmakers only care about visuals, not plot coherence.

Between its half-hearted story-telling, its one-note acting and its ridiculously guessable “mystery” plot, Impossible Crimes is a frustrating experience all round. Stick to possible crimes instead.

* 1/5

Impossible Crimes screened at Arrow Video Frightfest on Friday August 23rd 2019.

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