After a disorienting burst of intensity to kick things off, Chameleon slows down and takes its time to set up some dominoes. Jorge Riquelme Serrano’s direction doesn’t waste time on the serenity of the seaside landscape, instead keeping his camera close on the unraveling ugliness of its central couple. Just as it gets going, and you’re starting to think this might turn out to be a successful little slice of drama – things take a dark turn.
And this is where, frankly, everything goes to shit. Chameleon’s “Wolf in the Hen House” setup is senseless, tasteless and devoid of any meaning. All the buildup of two interesting and unlikable characters is completely swept aside to leave them addled pawns in their tormentor’s games – games which are never given purpose. Chameleon quickly becomes a series of perverse and vicious assaults, each more upsetting and pointless than the last.
Misogynistic garbage is the order of the day here – it’s shocking how little Chameleon values its two female leads. As the film doesn’t offer anything in the way of an explanation of its purpose, the most obvious through-line you can draw out of this mess is “these two women are terrible – now they’re going to be punished”. You have to believe that this cannot be the true point of Chameleon – and it is certainly possible that others may find a deeper and more empowering message in the rubble of this depravity – but glaringly problematic elements overshadow any larger narrative about class struggle or elitism.
It must be said that the filmmaking of Chameleon is technically faultless, and the actors sell the material they are working with admirably (bad drunk acting aside). Unfortunately a bizarre and upsetting plot ensures that this dollop of torture porn is anything but coherent.
CAST: Gastón Salgado, Paulina Urrutia, Paula Zúñiga
DIRECTOR: Jorge Riquelme Serrano
WRITER: Jorge Riquelme Serrano
SYNOPSIS: The day after hosting a going-away party, Chilean couple Paula and Paulina plan on a quiet day together. But when Gastón, a guest from the previous evening, shows up unexpectedly and a few drinks bring forth underlying tensions between the pair, his dark intentions begin to emerge.