DIS Mandragora (2017) Film Review

An exploration into the dark depths of nature both horticulturally, socially and spiritually, DIS is a high art journey of torture, restitution for sins past and a garden which feeds off the literal bodily fluids or seed of human sinners. Director Adrian Corona is digging deep into the spiritual abyss here with horrifying results. DIS is a soul draining, mind numbing yet beautiful experience.

DIS plays out in 3 chapters. The first chapter is titled “The Figure” and it opens the movie with a rather graphic scene of sexual deviance which will make anyone else in the room look at the you a bit differently as you watch. After this rather harrowing intro, we focus on the main lead, Ariel, played by Bill Oberst Jr. of Circus Of The Dead, an actor who has made a name for himself in the the indie scene. Oberst has a very commanding vigor and screen presence, which make his scenes shine, despite the lack of dialogue in the majority of the first half of the film.

The second chapter, titled “Mandragora,” is named after a plant found in the mandrake garden. In the intro of the film, there is a quote which reads:

“Mandragora is supposed to be a creature having life, engendered under the earth of the seed of some dead person put to death for murder.”

Oberst’s character is alone and living in a shack in the countryside. He attempts to hunt for food and survive, but something is watching him, and it knows he has a blow up doll in his cabin. One day while out exploring, Ariel comes across the ruins of a building. He takes a look inside and sees nothing until all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a hooded female figure makes her presence known by disrobing. This automatically peaks Ariel’s interest. He proceeds to climb to some of the higher floors of the building where the alluring female figure appears to jump off the roof to certain death. While there, Ariel discovers various strange symbols such as a rotting pig and mysterious paintings askew on the walls. Before one last desperate attempt to put an end to the situation, things take an even more bizarre and deadly turn.

We get a back story with Ariel and find out he is some type of soldier. We also find out about his past relationship with a woman, as well as some rather terrible things he has done. DIS is an amazing looking film, shot with as much beauty as horror in the depths of nature. The second half contains more dialogue and information on who Ariel is and what has brought him to his current state. DIS has fault in not being a clear and concise story and, to be honest, I don’t think it cares because it feeds on interpretation instead of a linear story line.

The third chapter, titled “DIS,” takes place after much of the harrowing scenes involving Ariel’s abduction and torture by this mystical figure. The movie is graphic but never becomes exploitative. There are some particularly graphic sexual scenes which are bizarre enough in nature as the Mandrake garden needs the human seed to survive, and it is extracted somewhat forcefully.

DIS is steeped in originality and for this, I applaud its approach. It’s definitely a thinker’s horror film with an intricate philosophy that cannot be taken for face value. It’s definitely not a light-hearted evening’s entertainment and it slowly unfolds throughout its 60 minute run time. Oberst is great in this film with his chiseled face and bodily caricatures. He is an impressive actor in indie cinema. His portrayal in DIS wants me to check out some of his other roles. Director Adrian Corona has an artistic beast of a film on his hands and he has let it loose upon the unsuspecting public.

About Richard Taylor

Avid gore/horror/underground/brutal death metal/comic fiend. Got into the good stuff in the nineties by tape trading the likes of Violent Shit, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Apocalypse, The Beyond, Guinea Pig series, Men Behind The Sun etc. Have written for a bunch of sites some now defunct and some still going such as Violent Maniacs Cage, ZFE Films With Attitude, Mortado's Pages Of Filth, Severed Cinema, Goregasmic Cinema, Extreme Horror Cinema and Twisted Minds.

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