The opening of Pussycake sets up a significant mythology about a missing scientist who may have discovered and traveled to a parallel dimension, leading his grieving son to recreate his experiments and rip a hole in the dimensional fabric separating worlds. Luckily, this Argentinian film from co-writer/director Pablo Parés uses this as a jumping off point for an extremely simple story, instead of adding yet another multiverse to the current craze.
After the opening sequence, wherein the unnamed son of the scientist unleashes something into our world through the dimensional rift, the film refocuses on the titular all girl band Pussycake. They’re a band, like many others, trying to make it big and playing as many gigs as they can to do so. We get to see them play a song, and it’s fun punky rock, but more than the music the band’s style is fantastic. And in the visual medium of film, especially in a brightly colored and joyous movie like Pussycake, the clothes are more important than the music.
Singer Elle (Macarena Suárez Dagliano) wears a luxurious fur coat and matching fur boots, guitarist Juli (Sofia Rossi) has a black and green futuristic outfit that matches her bright green hair, and bassist Sofi (Anahí Politi) dons a sexy snakeskin bodysuit and chaps with bright orange fur. Sadly drummer Sara (Aldana Ruberto) isn’t quite up to the level of her bandmates when it comes to sartorial panache, but her no-nonsense approach to her clothing also applies to her sense of survival as we soon learn.
When the band is driving to a show, a strange bright light causes their van to break down, leading them to walk into the town where their next show is to be. But when they arrive, they find the town empty, save for a dead body and the seemingly zombified shambling corpse of their friend who set up the show. From here the movie feels like a mix between Albert Pyun’s Vicious Lips and John Gulager’s Feast as the band find themselves in an inexplicable situation full of delightfully disgusting practical gore.
What initially seems to be a struck by zombies that proliferate by vomiting white liquid reminiscent of the fluid in androids in the Alien franchise into the mouths of their victims, turns out to be something more. There’s a battle going on between a parasitic organism seeking to reproduce, and an otherworldly hunter that’s followed the parasite through to our world in an attempt to stop it. But none of this is ever explained to the audience, instead we simply piece together what’s happening as our heroines are stuck in the middle of this joyously disgusting war. It’s a great surprise in a movie that began with an introduction to significant lore that as it goes on, there’s no exposition drops or any stops to the action to catch us up on who and why, allowing us to simply pick things up, or not.
The are a surprising number of action sequences as well, that are more chaotically exciting than beautifully choreographed, but that works for this movie that’s overwhelmingly focused on cheap thrills (this is a compliment to be clear). These action scenes also sometimes include slow motion that plays as the filmmakers laughing at themselves in the best way, it doesn’t add anything “epic” or “cool,” but it is fun. Which is what Pussycake is (almost) all about.
Sadly though, while Pussycake sidesteps the danger of being another film with an overabundance of lore about a multiverse, it falls prey to the current trend of “it’s about trauma” in film and television. In two sequences, once at the start of the film after an interaction with an aggressive fan and later in the film during fights with the creatures, Elle has flashbacks to her ex boyfriend beating her. These flashbacks are blips in the larger film, and while there’s a small payoff at the end, the entire subplot of her trauma could have been cut from the movie. Far from causing any problems for the film, removing these flashbacks would have made it a purely gleeful gory story of cool girls fighting monsters.
The flashbacks don’t ruin the movie, they’re just a disappointing and unnecessary inclusion in a film that’s otherwise so focused on delivering as much over the top fun as possible. Luckily, aside from these flashbacks, Pussycake succeeds in its goal of being a delightfully disgusting, brightly colored thrill ride.
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