Scream Factory is once again releasing a slew of horror treats just in time for Halloween and their latest on Blu-ray is The Squad (or El Paramo). This Columbian military horror film has been making a slow journey to disc, having been shot back in 2011. It did play Fantastic Fest 2011 with writer/director Jaime Osorio Marquez in attendance, but that predates me attending the festival so I saw the film for the very first time on Blu. Let’s take a look:
A squad of Columbian soldiers is sent to investigate why they lost contact with a remote outpost (located in what the disc case describes as the ‘desolate wastelands of Columbia’. I find this a harsh judgment of the country; the outpost appears to be on a foresty, albeit foggy, mountaintop). They of course suspect guerrilla attack and the presence of mines seems to reinforce this idea. Instead they find the base abandoned with nothing missing and a single bound woman who’s been sealed up behind a wall.
I love the atmosphere of the film; it is foggy, morbid, and thick with tension and existential dread. The soldiers all look the part and show a mix of impatience and macho that you know is going to boil over when faced with a puzzle they cannot resolve. I would describe the film as the first part of Predator crossed with The Keep. Fair warning, much like The Keep, this film’s plot absolutely crawls. Very little action and a whole lot of guys milling about as the mystery unravels. Have patience though, I found this to be a satisfying and terrifying story of madness.
The picture quality is good though I did see some small glitches in the playback. That may just be the copy I was given but they were noticeable. The special features are with just a ‘making of’ and the theatrical trailer. The cover has pretty cool variant picture of what was used in the original poster and the inside sleeve has a scene from the film.
The Making of “The Squad” Featurette
1080p Hi-Def widescreen 2.35:1
DTS-HD Master Audio
Spanish-only Audio & English-Subtitles
Original Release: 2011
Runtime: 100 minutes
Story: B- / Intriguing, but not quite enough original elements.
Presentation quality: B / few features and some buggy picture.
Scare factor: C+ / More creeping, less jumps.
Gore Factor: B / People killed mostly by familiar military hardware.
Repeat view-ability: B+ / You’ll like it better if you like horror and war films.
The Squad is available on October 21st, Pre-order HERE!
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.