La Zona (The Zone) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Gripping thriller with strong performances and a script that is both chilling and scarily prescient.

What's it all about?
La Zona is a gated community in Mexico City, where the wealthy residents are surrounded by walls and surveillance systems to protect themselves from the violence of the outside world. When three youths break into La Zona, a violent crime ensues, leaving four corpses: a resident, a security guard and two of the youths.

When the residents discover that one of the youths is still inside La Zona, they decide to enact vigilante justice and organise armed militias to search for him. Meanwhile, young Alejandro (Daniel Tovar) has a big decision to make when he finds 16-year-old Miguel (Alan Chavez) hiding in his basement.

The Good
La Zona feels like it's set in a future that's literally minutes away – we already have both gated communities and ever-present CCTV cameras, so it's not hard to imagine what would happen if everyone went a little Lord of the Flies. The film is also keenly aware that mob mentality can be a terrifying thing, though there are other, equally shocking moments, such as when the ostensible hero (or at least, a character who represents our only hope for justice) suddenly punches one of the few sympathetic characters in the face.

The performances are excellent, though Maribel Verdu (who receives the equivalent of a Special Guest Star credit) is badly underused. Alan Chavez is excellent as the terrified Miguel, while Daniel Tovar is suitably ambiguous as Alejandro – when he first finds Miguel you genuinely don't know if he's trying to help him or setting him up.

The Great
Director Rodrigo Pla orchestrates some genuinely suspenseful scenes and has an eye for striking imagery, particularly during the sewage pipe chase scene. The film also recalls the classic 1970s paranoia movies, in that the brutality and corruption of the police force is just as sickening as the violence.

Worth seeing?
La Zona is a gripping thriller that is both suspenseful and deeply disturbing. As such, it's definitely worth seeing, even if it's ultimately rather depressing.

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Content updated: 23/09/2018 15:53

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