Bacurau review – ultraviolent freakout in Brazil’s outback

This disquieting horror-style western about a town under siege from a mysterious threat is executed with ruthless clarity

Brazilian auteur Kleber Mendonça Filho, here co-directing with his producer and production designer Juliano Dornelles, has relinquished the quieter, more humanistic tones of his earlier pictures for this disturbing ultraviolent freakout. Set deep in the the Brazilian outback, it mashes up many themes and influences, but is chiefly a scream of satirical defiance against new president Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right globaliser who made his international statesman debut at Davos this year, famously promising to make the country more open to foreign trade. This movie’s closing credits pointedly note that the production created 800 jobs.

Bacurau is a hallucinatory trauma with something of Alejandro Jodorowsky, or Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright. It is also a paranoid revenge western that reminded me of Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, brusquely specifying the number of coffins that should be made ready. The setting – Baracau – is fictional; the name itself means “nighthawk”.

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Bacurau review – ultraviolent freakout in Brazil’s outback