When the program for the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival was announced, one film immediately jumped out at me based on the title alone: Pussycake. Call me a pervert, say my mind is in the gutter, make all the accusation of horniness you want. Do it. Get ‘em out! Either way, it got my attention. And then I saw the plot summary about a struggling rock band consisting entirely of women fighting off interdimensional monsters. And that it’s Argentinian? And the band is called Pussycake?! Sign me up!
Pablo Peres’ Pussycake is a somewhat well-trod story: group of young adults are traveling somewhere, vehicle breaks down, they encounter…something evil, and mayhem ensues. In this case, the band Pussycake is on their way to a show when their van breaks down and they head into town to seek help. Unfortunately for them, the seaside town they wander into was the earlier site of an experiment by a physicist seeking to access another dimension. The experiment of course didn’t go the way said physicist intended and Pussycake are forced to reckon with a race of interdimensional bug creatures who possess human beings in a very gruesome way, as well as a bounty hunter who is as ruthless as the bugs he’s hunting. It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Critters meets Evil Dead but co-directed by David Cronenberg and Stuart Gordon.
There is zero filler in this film. It is wall to wall fun that doesn’t pretend to be anything more than that. It doesn’t try be anything other than something akin to a late ’80s gore soaked sci fi horror film. The effects are spectacular and utterly disgusting, the characters are all super endearing and relatable, and the pacing is perfect. This film is an absolute blast to watch, and even without the genuinely touching emotional core of two characters desperately trying to make it out alive of a situation they can’t comprehend is still incredible. Nothing comes off as insincere or pretentious or ironic or false. Every moment of this film is incredibly earnest and genuine, even in the face of a mutated show promoter chasing people down to vomit weird gooey bullshit into your face.
In the realm of horror films, women are often used as nothing more than meat for the beast: cheap kills to satisfy the unspoken quota necessary to be a “good” horror movie. Or, they’re over sexualized and objectified, little more than eye candy. There are exceptions of course, but it happens ways too much. In Pussycake, however, there are no cheap kills. It’s not as red shirt-less as Alien, but by the time the killing starts we’ve already gotten to know these characters are rooting for all of them to make it out alive. And unlike the classic horror films of the ’70s and ’80s, the women in Pussycake aren’t static objects being leered at by a camera and objectified simply by being women. Instead, we have them embrace their sexuality on their own terms. At no point are they unnecessarily “sexy” just for the sake of visually being so. The male gaze isn’t present in the cinematography. These are attractive women, yes, but they don’t really give a shit what men think about them. That’s not to say there’s some deep social message behind this film, rather that is simply presenting these characters as women who are free from the constraints of caring what men think about them or their appearance. And that’s so rad.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s fun, it’s fucking gross as hell, and it’s got a ton of heart. It’s not particularly scary but really who gives a shit. It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is have a good time and make sure you have a good time as well.