Sin Muertos No Hay Carnaval (Such Is Life in the Tropics) 4.0 stars

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Immediately following the accidental shooting of a young bird watcher mistaken for a deer, the phrase “Weeks earlier” appears onscreen to transition the story into flashback. It’s a rare moment of orthodoxy in a film that does its best to turn aside convention. Neither whodunit — there’s nothing mysterious about the source of the stray bullet, or the face of the young woman who can positively ID the gunman — nor set-’em-up-to-watch-’em-die, director and co-writer Sebastián Cordero (Cronicas) instead fashions a slatternly film noir thriller bound to put a crimp in the Ecuadorian tourist trade. It’s a sordid tale of power, profiteering, and treachery, all conspiring to bring an end to the lives of 250 squatters who have settled on a piece of land the shooter inherited from his father. Seeing it came as quite the pleasant shock, seeing how I tagged Cordero’s Europa Report the worst film of 2013. Right in both cases!

Scott Marks

Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Rated: NR

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