As Netflix continues to build its horror offerings in 2018, it turns to a mix of two exploitation subgenres – the slasher and the rape-revenge movie. But latest addition, Mexican-slasher film Romina, arrives with nothing 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 of a hint of what to expect. Still the slasher camping movie doesn’t require much more than raunchy teens, a terrible incident, and inventive stalk-and-slash scenes. So can Romina check off a bare minimum number of boxes to be entertaining?
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. But Romina won’t forgive or forget. Soon a weekend of fun turns into a nightmare.
Romina is an Incomprehensible Mess
There’s bad movies, and then there are comically inept movies. To be a ‘fly on the wall’ in Netflix’s corporate office to better understand the criteria used to select their movies. Because Romina should leave most at a loss to explain how this amateurish mess made it onto the streaming giant. At the time of writing this review, several higher-quality indie horror gems (Terrifier) were missing in action. But here’s Romina, which In a nutshell, is a terrible movie. With little in the way of story, writer and director Diego Cohen tries to mimic movies like I Spit On Your Grave. Too bad Cohen loses something in the translation. Chief among the movie’s 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, Cohen muddies the water by the third act of the movie. Specifically, Romina introduces a ‘twist” that implies the title character always intended to kill her victims. Only two of campers were involved in the ‘assault’. Other supporting characters are unaware Romina is even in the woods. One character not even loosely affiliated with the campers is inexplicably murdered. Horror fans may see connections between Romina’s ‘twist’ and the vastly superior All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. 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.
Romina Offers a Handy Checklist for How ‘Not” to Make a Horror Movie
Its nonsensical story is perhaps the least of Romina’s problems. Among its sins, Romina is filled with shoddy camerawork, poor sound 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 struggle to keep track of who is who. 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
Well, they can’t all be winners. But even at the lowest bar of entertainment value, Romina can’t clear the hurdle. And budgetary constraints isn’t the movie’s problem. How many slashers have earned cult status on nearly empty piggy banks? Madman. Just Before Dawn. The Burning. Sleepaway Camp. No, Romina just suffers from poor vision and craftsmanship. Sadly, it’s not even bad enough to be ‘so bad, it’s good’.