With much of the world experiencing some degree of political and social unrest, it would seem a pertinent time for the release of New Order, Michel Franco’s dystopian thriller about societal collapse in Mexico. If only it were so.

Marian (Naian González Norvind), a wealthy young woman, is getting married. The crowds are gathered at her family home, and loud music and laughter create a joyful hubbub. It’s the perfect setting for chaos to ensue, and Franco delivers chillingly well-pitched tension for the film’s first twenty minutes. Marian’s mother Pilar (Patricia Bernal) turns on the tap to find the water a toxic shade of green. She begins to wander the party, her confusion turning to anxiety. As guests begin to arrive with green paint spattered on their cars, and an old family servant arrives requesting financial aid, chaos swiftly descends.

With the collapse of the party comes the complete collapse of the film’s narrative. Within minutes, our focus has shifted onto Marian, whose empathetic tendencies see her established as a likeable protagonist. Despite this, Franco entirely fails to render any meaningful characterisation. When Marian ends up in a prison camp, her story is used only to display the hideous violence of the guards, and a ransom plotline becomes the film’s only tenuous connection to a cohesive narrative.

New Order is, on paper, a story about race and class in contemporary Mexico. However, Franco has plucked this relevant and politically charged setting out of thin air, choosing to focus on degrading torture scenes rather than making any effort towards political commentary or even basic storytelling. It’s a cheap and meaningless premise used in this way, and the film lacks any humour or originality that might redeem it.

A promising start to New Order and some decent performances fail to drag this politically vacuous mess from a gory and belligerent gutter.

RATING: 2/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Naian González Norvind, Patricia Bernal, Mónica del Carmen

DIRECTOR: Michel Franco

WRITER: Michel Franco

SYNOPSIS: As the wedding of two wealthy young people takes place on a glorious day, sinister events begin to herald an imminent new social order in Mexico.