The big stink today around the web has to do with Sam Raimi’s production company signing Uruguayan director Federico Alvarez for his feature debut. Alvarez has garnered lots of praise for his “short film” Ataque de Panico (Panic Attack), which isn’t so much a film as it is a music video for the Uruguayan band Snake. If you’ve seen the short, though, you’ve likely seen the version without the appearance of Snake or their song, which is indeed titled “Ataque de Panico.” And you probably found it odd that this otherwise original work features the 28 Weeks Later score.
Most people are having trouble seeing the brilliance in Alvarez’s video, particularly as it’s being compared to District 9. Sure, it’s easy to see the potential parallels between the making of that film, with its short-film origins and big name Hollywood producer-as-mentor, but if Raimi and Alvarez go with the idea of adapting this simple story of giant robots and UFOs invading Montevideo, it will be something District 9 is not: a film based on a music video.
Has there ever been a music video adaptation before? Surely there must have been, and I just can’t think of one. Regardless, I’m imagining a feature length version of the “Ataque de Panico” video in which an alien invasion is shown from the perspective of a local rock band and the journalist following them around. It would be like Cloverfield meets Almost Famous. The members of Snake, who describe their sound on MySpace as “psychedelic sex rock,” should be cast as the film’s leads, but it’s more than likely Hollywood would want a more famous group. I’d love to see U2 running from giant robots; what about you?
Here’s what some other film blogs are saying about the video and Alvarez’s good fortune:
I never featured Alvarez’s Panic Attack on the site because I honestly just wasn’t that impressed. Everyone else on the web went ape shit for it, calling it the next big thing and just awesome. I thought the CGI was a little shabby and besides that it had no story or goal or anything besides mass destruction (and despite it started out focusing on some little kid). Those are my thoughts, though, and I bet with a $40 million budget, Alvarez will be able to do a lot more (and he’ll write a good script first before starting).
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see what all the hubbub’s about on this one. Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg demonstrated a vision we hadn’t really seen before. Nothing about the film or the design elements within it really stand out from similar genre entries. Take away Panic Attack!’s foreign setting and shaky-cam, and I see a close cousin of Roland Emmerich. The “District 9 model” is a smart one, and I’m definitely curious to see what Alvarez can do with a considerable (but sensible) chunk of change, but nothing in Panic Attack! grabs me quite in the way Alive in Joburg’s richly imagined world did.
The film itself is pretty cool, taking advantage of great cinematography and solid low budget effects, but lacks the same substance that Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg had. Articles calling Alvarez “the next Neill Blomkamp” need to look past the shaky cam and see this film for what it really is… ‘splosions. Not that this is a bad thing, but calling him the next Stephen Sommers might be slightly more accurate.
It kind of looks like if Michael Bay and JJ Abrams had a butt baby who grew up in Uruguay, and it definitely seems like it cost more than a few hundred dollars. With seven figures, I expect a few more crotch shots and the finest record scratches money can buy.
I really liked the Panic Attack short film and the idea that slow moving giant robots could invade and blow up the world is a great throwback to the 50s when robots were imagined that way. Notice how there were no chrome covered robots with red eyes using machine guns or any twin robots “jive” talking, humping girl’s legs, crying or swinging their wrecking balls in the camera’s face? Could it be that we might actually get a decent robot invasion movie that’s a lot of fun to watch?
I do understand and congratulate what Alvarez on his success and his movie is technically impressive, but the story here isn’t Alvarez. It’s the power of YouTube to create a calling card so fast and powerful that you can nab such an incredible deal. The reason that’s the story and not Alvarez is because I’ve seen far better YouTube short films and Ghost House seriously overpaid this guy which is ironic since the whole point of hiring him is for his low-budget chops.
Just stop and think about it. The short film with the audio cribbed from Godspeed! You Black Emperor was originally for this. Bonus points for making it all the way through this song, which will inevitiably bore itself into your consciousness and you’ll wind up walking around your office mumbling “…attackah de pani-ko…attackah de pani-ko.”