• Scavenger (Cleopatra Records) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cleopatra Records
    Released on: May 11thth, 2021.
    Director: Eric Fleitas, Luciana Garraza
    Cast: Nayla Churruarin, Sofia Lanaro, Jose Manuel Solis Vargas, Gonzalo Tolosa
    Year: 2019
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    Scavenger – Movie Review:

    When this 2019 Argentinian post-apocalyptic genre mashup begins, we witness a brutal home invasion scene where a young girl witnesses the brutal assault on her parents while hiding for her life. Cut to the present day, a harsh desert landscape. Here we meet an androgynous Mad Max style warrior-type named Tisha (Nayla Churruarin) who, with some help from a male friend, cruises across the desert to the home of an old woman. Here she gets some information and, after killing the woman, heads out on her way.

    She winds up at a bar/brothel where she’s almost immediately propositioned. She isn’t having any of it but soon enough, she’s been drugged. When she wakes up, she’s in a back room where, like it or not, she’s now in the brothel’s employ. After she’s raped a few times, she figures out here way to make her escape and exact her revenge.

    Scavenger, known as Carroña in its homeland, gets a few things right and a lot of things wrong. The right? Well, it’s fast paced, the costuming is solid and there’s some cool design work in the sets and the vehicles used in the film. This was clearly low budget but they put a lot of work into it and that work shows off. There’s also occasional moments of good cinematography, a few long shots stand out and some aerial footage, likely captured using a drone, gives the most a bit more scope than you might expect it to have. There are also some decent practical effects set pieces in the movie that are cool to see.

    The wrong? There’s virtually no character development here at all. Zilch. We know almost nothing about Tisha and while we are sympathetic to her plight, she has no personality at all. To be fair to Nayla Churruarin, she doesn’t have much dialogue at all and her character is just plain underwritten. Churruarin handles herself well enough in the fight scenes and does a good job of looking the part, but there’s simply nothing to her character. Additionally, a lot of the right choreography is shot close in and the camera moves around a LOT. This can be effective sometimes, but here it’s just dizzying and it can make it hard to figure what is happening in the action scenes. The film also has a tendency to focus and linger on the film’s stronger, exploitative moments (the rape scenes being the big ones here as they’re quite graphic and quite long) but without making us care that much about the character first, they don’t really have any impact. They do up the sleaze factor a lot, but it almost feels like they’re shot and edited the way that they are shot and edited for that reason alone – to make it sleazy. And that’s not enough. We’ve seen sleazy before, this doesn’t shock, it’s just predictable, much like the ‘twist’ ending that it all builds to. You don’t even have to be paying close attention to figure things out before the final scene.

    It’s also worth pointing out that this release includes English and Spanish audio options but not subtitles for the Spanish version. That means non-Spanish speakers will opt for the English version, which is very poorly dubbed and doesn’t do the movie any favors.

    Scavenger – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen, with the seventy-five-minute feature taking up 15.7GBs of space on the 25GB disc, which is likely why there are compression artifacts noticeable throughout. Shot digitally, there are no print damage or grain issues here. Colors often times look very hot, the contrast has clearly been boosted here, but black levels are decent if a few steps from perfect. Detail varies from scene to scene – when the camera isn’t zipping around and things are stable enough, you’ll pick up on good detail and texture, but when it’s moving around haphazardly, understandably things get a bit blurry. This looks to be a pretty accurate representation of how the movie was intended to look.

    Audio options are provided in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound options in both English and Spanish, but there are no subtitles offered for either track. The English 5.1 mix is pretty solid if never reference quality. Lossless would have been ideal but that didn’t happen. Still, there’s good channel separation here, mostly when it comes to the score and sometimes the effects. Dialogue is generally pretty easy to follow, though there are moments where things can sound a little muffled. Overall though, the audio is fine.

    Extras are limited to a one-minute trailer for the feature, a still gallery and trailers for a few other Cleopatra Blu-ray releases. Motion menus are also included. We also get a bonus CD containing the entire soundtrack for the picture.

    Scavenger – The Final Word:

    Scavenger is a tedious exercise in style-over-substance and the film’s style isn’t enough to save it. Cleopatra’s Blu-ray looks alright and sounds just fine but it’s light on extras. This is a pretty easy one to pass on.

    Click on the images below for full sized Scavenger Blu-ray screen caps!