Diego Martinez, a rookie security guard, starts his first night shift at the Regional Hospital. As he patrols the eerie corridors, he accidentally finds himself trapped inside the morgue.
The Film and Its Success
“Morgue” is a Paraguayan horror film released in 2019, written, produced, and directed by Hugo Cardozo, who makes his debut as a filmmaker. The main cast includes Abel Martinez, María del Mar Fernandez, Willi Villalba, and Francisco Ayala. After its release on August 22, 2019, the film achieved great success, becoming the box-office leader in Paraguay for two weeks. It is now available on Amazon Prime.
Diego Martinez (played by Pablo Martinez), a security guard, accidentally hits a pedestrian while driving distractedly. Instead of helping or calling for assistance, he flees the scene. Later, Diego is called to replace a security guard at the Regional Hospital in Encarnación, Paraguay. There, he is shown around by the daytime security guard, who explains his duties and takes him to the morgue, which requires special attention. On one of the tables in the gloomy room lies a single body, the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Diego quickly realizes the connection to his earlier incident, and his night takes a turn for the worse.
A Familiar Horror Story
The plot of “Morgue,” written and directed by Hugo Cardozo, is not particularly original. Many films feature stories set in morgues, such as “The Possession of Hannah Grace” (2018), “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” (2016), and “Cold Prey 2” (2008). Korean cinema has also produced notable titles in this genre, including the excellent “The Vanished” (2018). In this Paraguayan film, the action takes place in a dilapidated part of a hospital, encompassing the morgue. “Morgue” fully embraces the elements of pure horror, offering paranormal situations, chilling scares, and even a touch of gore, all within a small budget.
Diego, the main character, is the focus of the narrative. He appears to be financially struggling and irresponsible in many aspects of his life. He is in an unreliable romantic relationship with a jealous and ill-tempered woman. Diego’s sense of responsibility is lacking, as he chooses to flee the accident scene instead of helping the victim. However, he doesn’t hesitate to take selfies while on duty, even forgetting his service weapon on the table when he rushes off to an intervention. As the night progresses, Diego experiences escalating paranormal events, including doors opening and closing on their own, sightings of a mysterious figure in the corridors, and objects moving by themselves. Pablo Martinez delivers an excellent performance, effectively portraying the range of emotions Diego experiences, from confusion to fear and panic.
Low-Budget Production with Impactful Moments
The production elements clearly reflect the limited budget of the film. The cinematography relies heavily on different camera angles to follow the protagonist. The special effects used to depict paranormal events are basic but well executed. One particular scene stands out as one of the best jump scares in recent memory. However, “Morgue” suffers from some unnecessary length in certain scenes, such as when Diego prepares coffee in his surveillance room.
A Mix of Strengths and Weaknesses
Throughout the early part of the night, viewers need to pay attention to the background to catch the signs of the impending deterioration of the situation. The musical score is so understated that one may wonder if there is any music at all, except for the ominous sound that accompanies paranormal manifestations. This low rumbling is reminiscent of the “Paranormal Activity” film series, serving as an effective foreshadowing technique. The editing results in a film with a runtime of 81 minutes, which could have benefitted from a more experienced director to enhance its dynamism.
In conclusion, “Morgue” is a solid horror film that presents a familiar story, an unsettling plot, and a mixed execution. The pacing is uneven due to unnecessarily long or redundant scenes, but the storytelling remains coherent and linear. The cinematography creates a gloomy atmosphere, reflecting a sense of poverty and desolation. The film lacks a noticeable original soundtrack and relies on basic editing techniques. The cast delivers good performances, with Pablo Martinez’s acting being the standout. Overall, “Morgue” provides an enjoyable viewing experience, offering a decent amount of frights and horror. For maximum effect, watch it in the dark.
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