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Review: Huracán – “Compelling”

Courtesy of Studio Soho Distribution

Cassius Corrigan writes, directs, and stars in this Miami set thriller about an MMA fighter with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He plays Alonso Santos, recently released from prison and on probation following an act of violence.

Despite being nominally split into three episodes, the narrative plays out in a single line. We follow Alonso to sessions with his court-appointed counsellor (Yara Martinez) and to the MMA gym where he trains under the ambiguous direction of his Coach (Gregory Choplín).

The story turns essentially on the influence of these two figures as Alonso tries both to come to terms with his past and to manage his alter ego, Huracán.

It’s clearly made with a low budget but shows some promise.

The story feels amateurish in parts. Most of the characters are one dimensional and some of the plotting seems forced as if Corrigan thought there should be a particular scene in the film rather than letting it develop organically. The relationship between Alonso and his counsellor seemed to be going in a predictable and unrealistic direction at one point, only to swerve at the last moment. A police investigation raises one interesting line of dialogue but doesn’t develop and feels a little paint by numbers. Indeed, other than some occasionally shaky acting, the story is the weakest part of the film. It’s unclear if it succeeds in either of its narratives. The mental health story passes a cursory inspection, in the sense that dissociative disorders are often caused by childhood trauma and that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a recognised therapy to address traumatic incidents. However, it never completely feels fully aligned with the MMA sections, which are stronger. The tension that Huracán might surface at any point and inflict awful violence works, but is that a message to send about mental health in 2020? And is the story saying that MMA fighters are crazy? Additionally, the use of rape as a plot point is uncomfortable, particularly when the victimhood of the protagonist is given prominence over that of the victim herself.

Despite this, the film is compelling in parts. The music and sound design are particularly effective, especially in the EMDR sequences. The colour coding for the protagonist’s mental state, if a little obvious, works effectively throughout.

By far the most successful aspect is the MMA. It seems that this is where Corrigan is most comfortable, and one assumes that he is a fighter himself. If not, then it’s an excellent recreation. Equally, most of the other fighters are surely that – fighters rather than actors. The training drills in the gym feel authentic. The fight sequences have a snap and authenticity which draws you in, often with that tension of whether Alonso will flip at some point. These scenes often use a juddery jump-cut effect which worked well for this reviewer, though it might irritate some.

It’s difficult not to contrast the film with Warrior, the Tom Hardy vehicle from 2011. In respect of MMA, this stands up to it, toe to toe. Neither film quite succeeds in the character story surrounding the fights. Both use trauma as a motivating force, and both might have benefited from a more stripped-down focus on the sport itself, although it is understandable that writers want to explore the psychology behind locking yourself in a cage for an (almost) no holds barred full contact beating.

Despite the shortcomings, there is promise here and we may well see more of Mr. Corrigan in the future.

HURACÁN is in cinemas from 23rd October.

For more of my ramblings, check out FiskFilm or Medium.

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