Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco‘s most ambitious film to date, is set during violent protests in Mexico City, where society and classes get overturned to the point of no return. The unapologetic opening sequence sets the tone, soon opening the gates of hell, creating the most shocking political twists. A never-ending anxiety inducing dystopian nightmare ensues.

Marianne (Naian González Norvind – ‘Contar el amor‘) is getting ready to celebrate her special day at her parents’ house in one of Mexico City’s fanciest neighbourhoods. When a former employee comes knocking at the door, her wealthy family refuses to help the man out with his ill wife’s medical emergency and Marianne decides to take the matter in her own hands, hoping to get back before the judge arrives to officiate her marriage. Driving through the chaos, she makes her way downtown, when the uprising of this class war reaches her family, turning looting into brutal bloodshed. The military soon takes over the situation, making things even worse by rounding up upper class members found outside their neighbourhoods, keeping them hostage in holding cells, rape and torture them while demanding ransom from their families, and making it all look like it’s the protesters’ doing.

Franco’s film is provocative, horrifyingly violent and tough to watch. He starts off bold from the get go and jumps the timeline, going from one narrative twist to the other. His direction keeps you on the edge of your seat, mainly due to the consistent controlled acting from the entire ensemble. There’s not really one standout performance, as they all do their fair share at keeping it grounded. The only problem (or strength – it’s the way you want to look at it) I had, is Franco’s decision to have no character development whatsoever, making it hard to empathize with any character at all. No one is safe, rich nor poor, they all are to blame one way or another.

New Order doesn’t allow you to catch your breath. It just leaves you question everyone’s motivations, where a bit more background on the events and the characters who have to endure this horror would’ve benefited the film tremendously. Sure, the military taking control of a Latin-American country unfortunately isn’t anything new, we’ve seen it covered on the news more than once, but to experience an exaggerated version of it through the eyes of different individuals, makes it all too realistic, especially considering the global political climate we find ourselves in. While watching the film, you’ll often think by yourself, “WTF does this all mean?!”, and to be honest, I still don’t know. The only thing I can say, is that it’s one hell of a confusing horror film, that relies a bit too heavy on shock value.

Parasite meets The Grudge was the first thing that came to mind, and while the former is a masterpiece, the latter isn’t so much. New Order is a shamelessly incendiary concept, that could easily be a vision of what the rest of 2020 has in store for us. Upsetting, isn’t it?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

New Order is screening at TIFF20:
– Tuesday, September 15 at 9:15pm and 9:30pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
– Wednesday, September 16 at 6pm (online) and 9:15pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets are available HERE

TIFF20 Review – ‘New Order’

Reviewed online (as part of Toronto International Film Festival), September 13, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 88 min.

PRODUCTION: A Les Films d’Ici, Teorema Films production. Producers: Michel Franco, Eréndira Núñez Larios, Cristina Velasco L.. Executive producers: Lorenzo Vigas, Diego Boneta, Cecilia Franco, Charles Barthe.

CREW: Director/screenplay:Michel Franco. Editors: Oscar Figueroa Jara, Michel Franco. Cinematography: Yves Cape.

WITH: Naian González Norvind, Diego Boneta, Mónica del Carmen, Fernando Cuautle, Eligio Meléndez, Darío Yazbek.

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