Raoul Ruiz is a filmmaker that spends an exuberant amount of energy and time into crafting visuals and atmospherics. Many of films don't rely on a fluid narrative, have mostly wooden performances, and lots of less than perfect sound-work and yet in the end it barely matters in respect the film's quality. With The Territory all of these are prevalent but Ruiz's aggressive cinematic style overwhelms the viewer in a way that makes them react and feel something regardless of some of the film's more technical short-comings. The Territory is the story of a small group of city-slicker vacationers who go on a hiking trip into the woods. Incredibly unprepared for their time with Mother Nature they end up getting lost. Days turn to weeks and the group becomes more and more fatigued, hungry and desperate, leading them towards primal means of survival. The easiest way to describe Raoul Ruiz's The Territory is as a psychological horror film but quite frankly that wouldn't do the film justice. This is a film that's incredibly dense thematically and while some may simply call the film unfocused, I would disagree, arguing that it's an exploration of humanity in a lot of ways. For starters the film's allegory is quite simple, as we see a group of well-adjusted individuals slowly fall apart when thrown into the wilderness. All good manners and their civilities give way to violence as they become more and more desperate. They form new hierarchies attempting to create meaning or order out of chaos. We see how some of them even turn to religion in an effort to save themselves. This type of message is by far the clearest in the film, but the more fascinating aspect deals with the notion that our minds create reality, and if we don't understand the world around us we simply become lost. This group of people never is faced with danger by the land or nature around them, with all the violence coming from inside their warped perceptions. This horrific reality they themselves create through the worry and doubt that corrupts their mind. As I mentioned before all of Ruiz's films are beautifully rendered and The Territory is certainly no different. Ruiz juxtaposes the beauty of the wilderness with the darkness of man perfectly, creating an ambiguous atmosphere that is quietly horrific. As one can imagine, Raoul Ruiz's The Territory is not an easy film, but it's deliciously subversive and intellectually stimulating on many levels. d deliciously subversive in nearly every way possible.
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