Yet another take on the reality TV craze, EL NOMINADO is disturbing because it seems quite plausible in terms of its setting (an enclosed space deep underground) and outcome (a contestant goes violently insane). Too bad the film just isn’t very good.
In the new subgenre of Reality TV horror films, this 2003 Chilean import is better than REALITY KILLS, but falls short of SERIES 7. It was released straight to DVD in the US and can now probably be had for a couple bucks–provided you’re in an extremely undemanding mood.
On UNDERGROUND, the world’s “most extreme” reality TV program, eight young people are shut in an underground missile silo with their every action monitored by hidden cameras. The participants include an anorexic young woman, an artist, a gay man, and Miguel, a moody nut the show’s producers have included in an effort to ensure there will be drama. They’ve also secretly given Miguel a gun.
Miguel goes over the edge after he’s voted off the program by viewers. He shoots one of his companions and spends the remainder of the show stalking the others through the missile silo. Those he catches he kills in various creative ways: he makes the artist bleed all over her artwork, the anorexic he force feeds and then suffocates, and the gay guy gets his face chopped up in a fan.
Eventually the police are sent in to disarm Miguel and rescue the remaining contestants—but by that point will any of them still be alive? And will the viewer have lost interest??
This film is slick and scripted with brio, but otherwise it isn’t much. The narrative makes little sense—why doesn’t anybody in the bunker try to defend themselves against the psycho in their midst, especially since at one point he takes time out from his rampage for a sexcapade with a horny fellow contestant?
Too much time is spent outside the underground bunker with the show’s topside producers and financiers. This has the effect of opening up what could have a stagy and claustrophobic piece, yes, but it also deflates most of the tension. The performers all overact shamelessly (particularly Sebastian Layseca as the psychotic Miguel, who for some reason insists on showing off his emaciated belly every chance he gets), which further cancels out the suspense—correction: what suspense?
EL NOMINADO (THE CHOSEN ONE)
Idea Fija Films
Directors: Nacho Argiro, Gabriel Lopez
Producers: Gabriel Lopez, Nacho Argiro, Laura Ferrari, Maria Rita Figueira
Screenplay: Nacho Argiro, Nacho Arjiro, Gabriel Lopez
Cinematography: Antonio Rios
Editing: Pablo Avila Champán
Cast: Sebastián Layseca, Cristian de la Fuente, Rene Lavan, Francisco Reyes, Maria Elena Swett, Francisca Merino, Ingrid Cruz, Julieta Cardinali, Alvaro Escobar, Katyna Huberman, Daniella Tobar