Movie Review: Backyard (2009)
Director: Carlos Carrera
Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Asur Zagada, Marco Pérez
Synopsis: A Mexican border town is plagued by a huge number of murders of women.
The town of Juarez borders the Mexican/American border, tantalising its residents with glimpses of the promised land as they sit in houses that are little more than shacks. This close proximity seems to provoke an unrest in the impoverished male population that manifests itself in the multiple rapes and murders of its young womenfolk, and the corrupt police force and governor seem content to continue sweeping the rising incidence of ‘femicide’ under the carpet.
Backyard is inspired by true events. How close it is to reality is another matter. Hopefully, the events that unfold in this movie aren’t too close to the truth otherwise it makes truly disturbing viewing. The story follows two strands: the efforts of a tough young female cop to track down a serial killer responsible for the abduction and murder of countless women, and the experiences of a young village girl who moves to the town to live with her older cousin. By including this girl’s story, the film manages to personalise what might otherwise have been a routine and dispassionate account. The film also casts its net wide, gathering in the corrupt or uncaring high-ranking police officials and politicians – all of whom are men, of course – and vividly revealing how such atrocities are permitted to continue unpunished by the authorities because of commercial interests.
Backyard is an intelligent, well-written movie that takes care to sidestep most of the sensationalistic options provided by the story. We witness murder and rape, but rather than becoming complicit in what it records, the camera condemns the incidents it witnesses – no mean feat in a film of this nature. The film does seem to be a little too misogynistic in its outlook – but then this is perhaps dictated by the story on which the film is based – and the identity of the serial killer is a little too obvious early on, but otherwise it is a provocative account of a truly shocking situation.