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|Index||19 reviews in total|
23 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Hail to the King, Baby!, 7 December 2008
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
The "hunting humans" formula is one of the oldest (ever since the magnificent "The Most Dangerous Game" in 1933) but still most effective formulas in horror/suspense cinema. The creators of "El Rey de la Montaña" clearly were very much aware of that and, additionally, this instant sleeper cult-hit from Spain even feature the atmosphere of a genuine early 70's backwoods survival shocker. This is one of the greatest and most intensely disturbing chillers to have come out in Europe in last ten years or so, and that is saying a lot because Europe is the most flourishing continent for the horror genre at the moment. Although working from a very basic and rudimentary script director Gonzalo López-Gallego keeps his film surprising and totally unpredictable, mainly thanks to some shocking story revelations, very atypical character drawings and a sublime use of the desolate filming locations. On his way to his ex-girlfriend, Quim meets an attractive young girl named Bea and has sex with her in the gas station's toilet. Her love, however, isn't very sincere as she steals Quim's wallet and goes away. He searches for her in the mountainous countryside, but his chase comes to an abrupt end when an invisible shooter (or shooters) fires at his car. Now he and Bea will have to work together in order to stay alive and, on top of everything, deal with distrustful policemen and survive the robust landscape. "King of the Hill" is a uniquely versatile film. The camera alternately follows the preys as well as the hunters, the latter from first-person-shooter perspective like often used in video games, and I don't think you are supposed to feel connected with any of them. There simply aren't any heroes in this story. Quim is a stalker and a coward, Bea is a thief and a tramp, and just wait until you see who the marksmen are and what their motivations to hunt people down are exactly. The film contains relatively few graphic violence or raw images. The shock-impact merely relies on the unexpected plot twists and the truly astounding locations. Not since "Deliverance" has there been another movie that managed to make nature look so menacing! I'm not entirely sure if the movie was intended as criticism towards the increasing amount of violence featuring in video games and how far this negatively influences our children, but it's first and foremost a nail-biting thriller that also messes with you head. At the end of the film, you don't know who to root for anymore and so many questions remain unanswered, but presumably that's part of the power of this perplexing tense thriller. Watch this guaranteed future cult classic as soon as you can, but please be careful not to read too many reviews, news articles or interviews with cast and crew before you do, as a lot of these reveal essential plot twists.
11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Good., 29 April 2009
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
Man traveling alone through the country stops at a gas station/rest
stop, has an almost encounter with young lady before heading off again.
Not long after that he finds he's the target of a sniper who seems
intent on hunting him and anyone he comes in contact with. (There's
more but its best you find out yourself)
Good, but not great thriller that has a great look, some nice twists, especially in the later part of the film. This is a film I admire more than "love". It's well made, it's well acted, it keeps you attention but it ever completely creates enough tension to truly engage you. The problem is rooted in the premise of the film, namely there is no way that the sniper could move around as fast or be able to engage our hero as quickly as he does. Our hero is in a motor vehicle (or vehicles) and the sniper isn't. Its not a glaring flaw, and it wasn't instantly apparent what it was that was bothering me. Only when events shifted in the second half did I have an "ah ha" moment. Once I realized what was bothering me I settled down and enjoyed the film more. Its still not a great film but it is a good one, and as I said I like the twists towards the end. Worth a look (and in my case second viewing since I think I may have missed a couple of things).
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
100% fat free, 27 February 2011
Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
This minimalist Spanish thriller is yet another version of the age-old
MOST DANGEROUS GAME story, yet filmed in such a way that it feels fresh
and energetic despite the slimness of the plot. The Spanish have a way
of taking the most simple elements of cinema characters, a strong
setting and turning them into something often stylised and
entertaining. KING OF THE HILL may not be up there in the ranks of REC
and THE ORPHANAGE, but that doesn't stop it being a well made and
beautifully shot little movie.
The story is simple. After an arresting sexual encounter in a public toilet, a man and a woman find themselves stranded in the wilderness and at the mercy of unknown marksmen who are hunting them with dogs and rifles. There's no more to it than that, and when a couple of disbelieving policemen turn up, you can instantly guess their fate. Even the identity of the killers is rather ho-hum given the recent successes of EDEN LAKE and THEM.
And yet still I found myself gripped by the unfolding events. That may be down to the lean, pared-down nature of the script or the genuine performances from the leading players both Argentinian-born Leonardo Sbaraglia and his pretty sidekick, Maria Valverde, are fine at expressing stark terror at their impending doom. While I didn't agree with some of the plot twists that rob the movie of a single sympathetic character, I loved the bleak, beautifully-shot setting and the relentless nature of the action. Not a classic maybe, but still a serviceable outing.
12 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
A wonderful movie from Spain, 19 July 2008
Author: GUENOT PHILIPPE (email@example.com) from France
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow !!! I am still astonished by this superb flick. Very different from
what we can see else where. We of course think of Severance,
Deliverance, Open Season and some other movies released in theatres
since some years; movies about human beings in face of the rude
Spain usually gives us pretty good surprises; unfortunately, I do not remember all the titles...I am better comfortable with french, American and British cinema. Let's be fair, Spanish directors seem to be very free and inventive with what they want to shoot. No pressure from the producers.
What's very interesting in that feature is that it doesn't focus only on the lead characters but, after two third of the film, also on the hunters. And after seeing the film, we wonder, ask ourselves about the "bad guys". Very few things are explained. And that's entertaining, exciting at the most. This kind of film stays inside of you for a long while.
The only thing on what I could argue is about the wound of the "hero". At the beginning of the film, he is hit by a bullet at the thigh and near the end, he runs like a rabbit !!!
But if you forget it, it's really a great picture. Run for it!!!
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
High concept doesn't quite work, 3 April 2011
Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Qim, on his way from A to B, has a knee-trembler in a service station
toilet with a young woman who steals his wallet. Pursuing her into
unknown, and fairly inhospitable countryside, he is shot be persons
unknown, following which he ends up being hunted and on the run for his
This is not exactly unknown territory for a movie, albeit the characters usually have something by way of back story and motivation.
On one level this movie is quite successful - the action is suspenseful and fairly well done, the hunted are always convincingly in jeopardy, the landscape is against them as much as their assailants, and the characters are all well played.
On the other hand, the high concept is perhaps a bit too high - a bit more exposition would have helped, and a little more explanation as to what had happened, and why, at the end.
5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Nice try... but..., 30 January 2010
Author: adrianbarac from Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Low budget, decent enough concept, starts off well, occasionally well
executed, good cast, great locations.
BUT... too thinly written, gets progressively more slow and tedious after the initial setup. Too many inexplicable scenes where the characters do stupid things (shouting & screaming, walking casually in an open clearing surrounded by hills when they should be trying to lay low). Then, amid much ponderous pacing, something will suddenly happen that isn't clear due to fast cutting or being off camera.
Actually quite liked the reveal of the kids at the climax. But I was so bored by this point that any development was welcome.
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
King of the hill....goes downhill....., 29 December 2009
Author: A V from India
A film that builds on pretty well through the first forty five minutes or so just does downhill by making that one distinct narrative shift - revealing the identity of the assailants. Till then its a motley group desperately struggling to outwit some faceless gunshooters knowing only that if it exposes itself in that deep jungle it'd be dead meat. When the numbers dwindle, the camera moves on away from the hunted to the predators (this is so funny as though making an announcement that the arena is set). I just know its who v/s who and what the outcome will be. In fact disturbing as it seemed when I found out what the killers were upto and their movies per se , the straightened out revenge take isn't what I wanted. But it seemed all laid out. Disappointing!
"Continually intriguing...", 14 September 2012
Author: Sindre Kaspersen from Norway
Spanish screenwriter, film editor and director Gonzalez López-Gallego's
fourth feature film which he co-wrote with screenwriter and producer
Javier Gullón, was screened in the Discovery section at the 32nd
Toronto International Film Festival in 2007 and is a Spanish production
which was shot on locations in the municipality of Vinuesa and Soliedra
in the city and province of Soria, Spain and was produced by Spanish
screenwriter and producer Miguel Bardem and producers Juan Pita, Juanma
Arance and Álvaro Augustin. It tells the story about Quim, a young man
who while on his way to visit his former girlfriend Sofia, stops at a
petrol station in a small rural community and gets robbed by a young
girl he has never seen before. As the girl vanishes without a trace
Quim continues towards his destination, but all of the sudden he sees a
flash up in the mountains and hears that a bullet hits his car.
Finely and engagingly directed by Spanish filmmaker Gonzalez López-Gallego, this fast-paced fictional tale draws a riveting portrayal of a young man's struggle to survive after coincidentally becoming the target of a group of psychopathic hunters in the highlands of Soria, Spain. While notable for it's naturalistic and atmospheric rural milieu depictions, the fine cinematography by screenwriter and cinematographer José David Montero, editing by Gonzalez López-Gallego and use of sound, this character-driven psychological thriller depicts a sparse though efficient study of character and contains a prominent score by composer David Crespo.
This forebodingly atmospheric story about a man who is involuntarily designated as a participant in an inhumane game of life and death, is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, multiple viewpoints, esoteric characters and the involving acting performance by Argentinean actor Leonardo Sbaraglia. A continually intriguing mystery.
Good movie!, 17 March 2012
Author: dawn1-317-491182 from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maria Valverde make for a sympathetic pairing, wisely the film doesn't stop to long to give them a relationship but they have a certain mild chemistry that makes their bond under adversity a compelling one. For around two thirds or so of its length King of The Hill is rather great, hardly earth shattering in its events or approach but sufficiently well handled that it really stands out, unfortunately it doesn't end the same way. Like most films of its mysterious ilk, there's a "big reveal" here, and it's deeply ill-advised, an attempt at sombre significance that flops hard. A turn in events that would be unlikely and fairly tricky to pull off even if it were a significant part of the film from the start, here the film expects us to just buy the plot turn and then continues in the same uncompromising vein as before. To say much about why it doesn't work would be going into spoiler territory and since other have enjoyed this much more than I and not been troubled by the finale I won't divulge events, but for me it was daft verging on laughable, it not only took all the wind out of the film's sails but also rather tainted what had gone before. A saddening turn of events, as I wanted to dig this one and it came close to being a winner, but I can only go by my final impression, which was one of disappointment. A 5/10 then, even though for a fair amount of the runtime this is more like a high 7.
6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
What's the matter with kids today?, 4 February 2010
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a thriller about a young man (Leonardo Sparaglia) and a young
woman (Maria Valverde) whose cars break down in the middle of a
mountainous Spanish wilderness. They had bumped into each other
briefly, so to speak, in a gasoline station rest room, but they're
otherwise strangers. They are both lost.
They find themselves hunted by mysterious figures with rifles equipped with telescopic sights. And do those bullets make a racket on their arrival.
In Valverde's car they drive quickly away from the area where the bullets kept popping around them until they reach a dilapidated bar. The break in and Valverde is attending to Sparaglia's wound when two cops drive up, search them, and demand that they be taken to the scene of this so-called ambush. The two cops find the story believable but at a price.
Sparaglia and Valverde barely escape. Now without cars, they stumble through the damp woods and yellowed poplars, try to cross surging rivers, fall into pits, and do the usual things that pursued people in the wilderness do.
The movie is full of clichés. Let me mention a few without dwelling on them. (1) There are myriad close ups of sweating and terrified faces. (2) The camera wobbles as if it's had too many Anise del Monos. (3) Why did the fleeing couple decide to stop at a bar where it was obvious the hand of man had never set foot for at least twenty years? (4) When the two hostile cops accost the couple at the bar, why do they think the trembling couple are lying? Instead of asking if the couple had broken in, why didn't they ask to see Sparaglia's bleeding leg wound? (5) One glance at the cops and we know they are there for only two reasons -- to provide a sense of false hope and to be killed. (6) A cop is shot outside his car, within which the young couple of imprisoned, so why does he whirl about and aim his pistol at THEM? (7) Why did the two cops force the couple to take them back to the scene of the ambush in the first place? (8) When the second cop is popped, why don't they grab his pistol before scurrying off into the woods? (9) When escaping from a sniper, why not drive away in a car, even if it has a flat tire -- and to hell with the rim? (10) Why, when Valverde is trapped in a small pit and Sparaglia is out looking for a stick to pull her up with, and they both know that snipers are in the vicinity hunting them with a dog -- does she repeatedly shout his name at the top of her lungs? And what an unAmerican name it is -- "Quim." We can only be thankful than en Español it's pronounced "Keem." (11) The photography is in fashionable high contrast and draws colors from the ghoulish green area of the palette.
That gets the bad stuff pretty much out of the way. If the first two thirds of the film are exactly what you'd expect in this trashy genre, the same can't be said for the last third.
There is, for instance, no dead body that leaps back to life at an awkward moment, which is a refreshing change. I've been praying that, once dead, they stayed dead.
And -- I won't spoil this, but the heavies are not what you'd anticipate -- no skinheaded clowns in black leather with barbed wire tattoos across their chests. Nobody wearing a hockey mask or disguised as Karl Rove. Just a couple of empty headed refugees from a Middle School taking part in a kind of scavenger hunt in which everybody loses. And there are unexpected twists I won't get into.
The acting doesn't have to be particularly good in a movie that consists chiefly of people stumbling through the bushes or sneering at one another -- and it ISN'T particularly good -- but Sparaglia is believable as the young man scared spitless, and Valverde has great big moo cow eyes and an aquiline nose that falls just short of beautiful.
At the close, the hunting dog moseys up to the survivor and nuzzles him. I was glad to see that. There is nothing like the love of a good dog. I don't mean carnal love, of course, but fellowship, what the Greeks called "philia." A dog is a man's best friend. They're easy to read. You can tell when a dog likes you because he wags his tail, smiles, lets his tongue hang out, and drools. CATS never do that. Cats are too self contained. They're uncanny and know a lot more than they're letting on. If you and your cat traded sizes, your cat would eat you. Would your dog do that? No. No, your dog would not. Never trust a cat.
There's a lot of tension in this film, almost in spite of the stereotypes that are splashed all over the screen.
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