The Squad [El Páramo] (2011) Review

The SquadEveryone knows war is hell however it seems there is a recent trend in several war movies taking a distinct horror slant almost as if they are determined to quite literally prove the proverb via there picture.

From the silly, such as War of the Dead and The Blood Reich: Bloodrayne 3 to the seriously spooky such as R-Point and The Bunker, from WWII comedy horrors like Dead Snow to the modern day werewolf war fair of Dog Soldiers there is plenty of potential in putting a platoon of plucky service men from any era up against some supernatural eerie enemy and seeing the sparks and scares fly.

The Squad does just that with a story following a team of Columbian soldiers sent to an isolated outpost after losing contact with their comrades in arms. Fearing their friends have been overrun by guerrilla forces they find the base completely deserted and devoid of life.

The Squad

Cautiously venturing inside they come across scattered corpses and blood covering every surface. One room in particular scares the soldiers further when they find magical symbols scrawled all over the walls purposely put there in an attempt to ward off evil.The Squad

With fear and confusion setting in the discovery of a lone survivor pushes the team to the edge and over into a journey into insanity as order and paranoia reign over the men as they desperately try to work out who or what their real enemy is.

First time director Jaime Osorio Marquez does an excellent job creating a tense atmosphere from the start which he expertly amplifies throughout the slow burn story.

Intensified by the spooky setting and the subtle soundtrack this is an atmospheric movie more interested in creating a menacing mood of dread in the audience than using trite tactics like showy scares and gratuitous gore.

Part thriller, part war movie, part supernatural horror the film evokes elements of Platoon, Predator and classic John Carpenter with The Thing an obvious influence shown by the all male testosterone tension created by The Squad’s excellent cast.

Although seemingly a bland band of brothers only identified by their derogatory nicknames at the start the soldier’s do get developed as the film moves forward with each character growing into an individual as the story and the scares unfold.

The SquadThe Squad

Their believability and interaction is the most important element and as things gradually spin out of control the most shocking and disturbing scenes stem from the breakdown of the men’s morals, minds and most hauntingly their humanity.

Psychologically unnerving and very well made The Squad is creepingly claustrophobic from start to finish and cunningly blends genres making a movie much more than the sum of its soldiering parts.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ☆ ☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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  • […] Much like many other horror war films such as the much more supernatural (but equally excellent) The Squad, Southern Comfort is less about the horror the men face and more about the horror within them, and […]

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