The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - CHAMELEON | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - CHAMELEON

chameleon film review
A disturbed young man arrives at the summer home of an affluent couple.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jorge Riquelme Serrano

Starring: Alejandro Goic, Paulina Urrutia, Gaston Salgado, Paula Zuniga

chameleon film

Home invasion thrillers are rarely a barrel of laughs, but few are as grim as Chilean writer-director Jorge Riquelme Serrano's debut, Chameleon.

Essentially a three character play, in Chameleon, Serrano has his cast maintain their real names, presumably to aid with improvisation. The film certainly has a loose, improvised feel, which works quite well in its early scenes, but isn't so successful once the stakes are ramped up in the movie's more visceral back end.

chameleon film

Paulina (Paulina Urrutia) and Paula (Paula Zuniga) are an affluent, bourgeois lesbian couple who have spent the summer at a beach house. It's the final day of their stay before they set off for a new life in London, and they're both nursing hangovers from the party they threw the previous night.

Tensions run high when Paulina and Paula discover someone has left a tap running and flooded their bathroom, with both women blaming the other's perceived negligence for the damage. Arriving inconveniently in the middle of this foul atmosphere is Gaston (Gaston Salgado), the handsome young mestizo lover of Franco, one of the previous night's guests. Gaston has brought a bottle of wine, which he claims is a peace offering from Franco, to apologise for an ambiguous scene he caused at the party.

chameleon film

A not so closeted bigot and snob, Paulina interrogates her guest about his background and employment status, which irks Paula, who appears to have come from a working class background herself. Paula hits the wine and begins to reveal intimate secrets about the not so healthy state of her relationship with Paulina. When Paula falls unconscious from too much wine, Gaston's true intentions become clear.

Serrano's film explores class tensions and homophobia in a manner that's initially intriguing but sadly falls into reductive cliches. The first 40 minutes of Chameleon, in which the three players engage in passive aggressive warfare, suck us in to its uncomfortable dynamic as it posits Gaston as the object of our sympathies.

chameleon film

Once the chloroform rag comes out of his pocket however the drama falls flat, with physical violence replacing the verbal cat and mouse game that was working so well up to that point. The actions of Paula once she finally awakens from her drunken slumber are clearly designed to shock us, but I couldn't buy her behaviour for a second.

There's half of a compelling, smart and discomforting thriller here, and enough to suggest in its early scenes that Serrano is capable of delivering something more satisfying in the future. Chameleon's first half is a semi-gripping movie about people who are ugly on the inside, but in its second half the ugliness overwhelms the film.

Chameleon is on Amazon Video from October 20th.