The garrison at a remote military base in Colombia, in the middle of guerrilla country, have gone silent and so a squad of elite soldiers is sent to find out what has happened to them. Cue lots of blood, paranoia and guns.
The Squad is one of those films that does a lot more than it should given its resources. With clever use of lighting, some excellent acting and pretty tight script you are thrown into a very convincing cauldron of fear, anger and paranoia.
It starts with the aforementioned team of soldiers making their way by helicopter to a remote part of Colombia, an area known to be home to rebel guerrillas. The team is expecting to encounter these mysterious foes, but they don’t actually know what is going on.
They creep towards the base and don’t meet anyone, the whole area is eerily quiet, which only adds to the tension. The men then congregate at the foot of the defences that protect the outpost and await further orders as they still haven’t seen or heard anyone.
It’s at this point that the film falls into one of the most common clichés when it comes to any film featuring soldiers. The squad, you see, is commanded by a ‘green’ lieutenant, of course he is, who has to try and exert his authority on a band of combat-tested veterans including the obligatory sergeant who is actually in charge. This isn’t really necessary in my opinion. It stuck out and didn’t help the film and could be easily dropped.
After this point the film starts to pick up as the squad starts to break up both mentally and literally. As you would expect the team starts to disobey orders and things go wrong almost instantly. The squad makes its way into the outpost and, much to their surprise, find it deserted. Of more concern is the fact that the walls are daubed with blood and there are various, possibly magic, symbols that are designed to ward off evil, hanging around.
Of course being a horror/thriller none of the radios work so they can’t call for help, why does this always happen? It’s like the characters saying: ‘let’s split up!’ A bit of a cliché really.
What is excellent though is the way that the squad members start to rub up against each other as their fears take hold of them and change they way they feel about their situation and each other. This starts to happen after one of the team finds a woman hidden behind a false wall. She was obviously captured by the original occupants of the outpost but they don’t know anything about her including why she is there. Is she to blame for what happened?
Apart from the couple of clichés, everything else in The Squad is top notch. The acting is excellent and you totally believe the characters and feel sympathy for their situation in some cases. Director Jaime Osorio Marquez clearly had a very strong vision for how the film should look and he has created a film that crackles with tension and you don’t know which way it’s going to turn next. This is despite it looking, on some levels, like a by-the-book thriller.
So if you want some thrills that don’t involve zombies, CGI and scripts that have more holes in them than action, then The Squad is worth watching. It’s a slow burner, but give it time and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Review by Henry Tucker