French born writer-director Olivier Abbou’s debut Territories is an interesting film with a disturbing premise.
Territories concerns five friends heading back from a wedding reception in Canada. As they’re driving and chatting they notice a road block of sorts up ahead and two customs / border police pull them over for a broken light on their vehicle. Agent Samuel (Roc LaFortune- Beastly, Immortals) and his pal Walter (Sean Devine- The Whole Nine Yards), seem to be your usual over-officious, authoritarian border patrolmen intent on sniffing out drugs and wrong doings. But as the friends co-operate with the officer’s questions they become more bizarre by the minute.
Walter finds some dope hidden in teenager Tom’s (Alex Weiner- Clydecynic) backpack and in a split second the unfortunate situation escalates into a major incident. Law Major Leslie (Nicole Leroux- The Core) tries to assert her legal rights and demands that her asthmatic, mute brother be allowed to take his asthmatic medication, but she ends up being forced to submit to an invasive cavity search in front of everyone. As things quickly escalate the group are then made to strip and put on prison garments before being stuffed into animal cages.
Things get extremely worse as the group are all labelled with a hot iron with numbers that they are to be known as. After a harrowing few days an early escape attempt is thrillingly mounted, the pay-off shattering for how nearly successful it is. The pacing for Territories is pretty quick and it helps that you are thrown into the situation right away. A possible downside for some is that towards the end it loses steam.
The story does not show any compassion for its victims, paying more attention to the torturers, but the anguish onscreen is strong and the performances are uniformly excellent, conveying believable emotional states throughout the movie.
Territories is a difficult watch at times but a worthwhile one. It’s no masterpiece but it may have you thinking about its message.
WICKED RATING: 5.5/10 [usr 5.5]
Director(s): Olivier Abbou
Writer(s): Olivier Abbou, Thibault Lang Willar
Stars: Cristina Rosato, Michael Mando, Roc LaFortune
Studio/ Production Co: Capture The Flag Films, Films Esplanade, Les, Films du Territoire, Les
Budget: CAD 3,000,000 (estimated)