Stars: Esteban Prol, Horacio Fontova, Sergio Podelei
Director: Pablo Pares
Distributor: Jinga Films
“I don’t want The Father to get mad!”
A futuristic, yet frightening film, I Am Toxic (Soy toxico) is a Spanish-language dystopian sci-fi film set in 2101 Buenos Aires. From Pablo Pares, this post-apocalyptic adventure is painfully gruesome in both its imagery and context. Could this future happen? For many a reason, I Am Toxic is, perhaps, one of the scariest films of all-time.
Waking up amongst an array of crushed skulls (like the ones in The Terminator!), a rugged man – Perro (Esteban Prol) – doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. He’s bewildered; he doesn’t know where he is or who he is. To make matters worse, he’s just watched a zombie-like figure – one of many, regarded as a “dry” – eat another man. I Am Toxic doesn’t waste time in getting weird. In a wasteland resulting from a “bacteriological war” in the Northern Hemisphere, Perror is in search of safety and shelter, but quickly finds himself under the wim of a rogue family, vaguely reminiscent of the Angel Gang in Judge Dredd.
Because Perro has next to no recollection of anything, only flashbacks which begin to occur more frequently as the film progresses, and which the context and content within becomes more apparent, the viewer is placed in the magnificent position of learning and growing with the Perro character as he himself pursues the truth. He could be anything, he could be nothing. Esteban Prol brings to the table an astonishing physical performance. The terror, both physically and mentally, which Perro endures, is conveyed in a realistic, yet frightening manner from Prol.
If one were to think the North/South divide in England was bad, the divide between hemispheres in I Am Toxic is utterly ridiculous. The world in the Southern Hemisphere, specifically Buenos Aires, established through a grey colour palette, is arguably worse than any destruction and dismay presented within the Mad Max films, though there is an ambiance slightly reminiscent from The Road Warrior. Cargo planes dropping dead bodies from the sky is a common occurrence. The mood and tone throughout I Am Toxic is so bleak and negative, yet when the zombie/dry figures frequent into the scenes, the picture transcends into a much more comedic nature almost immediately – is this because zombies are daft or the Angel Gang knock-off, lead by the late Horacio Fontova, are stupidly ridiculous? Even still, ridiculousness aside, their presence and existence has an aroma of slavery and sexual assault in their ownership and abuse of Iris (Fini Bocchino) – the young girl forced into their cohort, muted because they cut off her tongue, and yet holds a greater importance than it might seem at first.
Running at under 80 minutes, I Am Toxic prevents itself from being more explorational in the world it has established, but instead, has room only for its lead character – Perro – to pursue the truth behind his existence over the course of maybe a day or two, leaving the story to be slightly thin perhaps. However, in the story which writer-director Pablo Pares has presented, there are no nuances of anything feeling rushed or shoehorned in. Blood, guts and gore are all here, but not presented in an exploited manner. Ultimately, I Am Toxic is a film which entails such an enthralling, yet sometimes gruesome and sickening story, but one that can importantly be read as a text on toxic masculinity too.
I Am Toxic is available now on DVD and Digital here, many thanks to Jinga Films for the pleasure of this film.
This article’s featured image: By Source, Jinga Films, Fair Use