Netflix looks to continue to build its horror offerings with its latest addition, the Mexican-slasher film Romina. There’s little in the way of advance buzz for Romina and director Diego Cohen’s filmography is a little sparse. Netflix’s synopsis also doesn’t offer much other than promising a mix of a slasher and rape-revenge film story-line. Having just returned from a vacation and long plane ride, I thought I’d give this indie horror a look before any of you decided to watch.
A group of young teens drive into the woods for a weekend camping trip. When two of the young men accidentally discover that odd classmate, Romina, is camping alone in the same area, they begin spying on her. Things escalate quickly resulting in a violent assault on the lone girl. When the guilty young men return to their campsite, they keep the assault a secret.
An Incomprehensible Mess
I would love to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in Netflix’s corporate office to better understand the criteria used to select films to include in their streaming library. As for Romina, I am at a loss to explain how this amateurish mess made it onto the streaming giant while other indie horror gems (Terrifier) are missing in action. In a nutshell, Romina is a terrible film.
First and foremost, as evidenced by the threadbare synopsis, there is very little to the story in Romina. It’s an inept attempt to mix the slasher and rape-revenge sub-genres. Director Diego Cohen, who also contributed to the screenplay, clearly wants to mimic films like I Spit On Your Grave, but something’s been lost in translation.Chief among the film’s story problems, Romina barely registers as a character in her own movie. She has almost no dialogue and none of the story is ever from her perspective.
It’s an inept attempt to mix the slasher and rape-revenge sub-genres.
While there is a ‘revenge’ motive, it’s made murky with a third-act ‘twist’ that implies Romina always intended to stalk and kill her victims. Only two of the campers were involved in the ‘assault’, with the other characters unaware that Romina was even in the woods camping. One character who isn’t even loosely affiliated with the campers is inexplicably murdered. Horror fans who have seen the vastly superior All The Boys Love Mandy Lane may seem some connections when the twist is revealed. It’s a nonsensical development that suggests that Romina is a thrill-killer, all but undoing the rape-revenge story ‘developed’ earlier in the film.
A Handy Checklist for How ‘Not” to Make a Horror Movie
Its nonsensical story is perhaps the least of Romina’s problems. As much as I want to support indie horror films, there is really nothing about this movie to recommend. It’s a low-budget effort with shoddy camerawork, poor sounds effects, and no scares. Sometimes the camera seems to be jostling around on things unrelated to the action, and other times it lingers on the background for no apparent reason. Most of the death scenes happen off screen, which turns out to be a good thing. The few death scenes that play out on screen are clunky. All the make-up effects are poor, rating somewhere around the quality of materials you could pick up from Spirit Halloween.
All the make-up effects are poor, rating somewhere around the quality of materials you could pick up from Spirit Halloween.
None of the actors turns in performances that even rise to the to the level of competent. Not that it would have mattered as the screenplay offers nothing to distinguish one character from another. Motives are unclear, characters behave irrationally, and you’ll have a hard time keeping track of who is doing what or why. Romina is also poorly paced making its short 77-minute run-time feel much longer. The teens’ car ride to their camping destination feels like it goes on forever, serving to only make you dislike each and every character.
We Have Another Candidate For Worst Horror Film of the Year
About a month ago I posted my midterm ranking of the ‘best of’ horror films for 2018. Romina positions itself to be an almost certain candidate to make a ‘worst of’ list for 2018 along with the frustrating House of Demons and other Netflix stinkers including The Cloverfield Paradox and The Open House. If you’re browsing Netflix and looking for some mindless entertainment to kill time, my recommendation is to skip over Romina and never look back.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: F