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{Fantasia 2020} La Dosis-Review- Dexter, Macbeth, And Single White Female Converge In A Satisfying Psychological Thriller

La Dosis is a confident retread of familiar genre tropes done competently with an unexpectedly complete ending.

La Dosis(The Dose) is the story of Marcos, a dedicated nurse in the ICU, and the smooth young nurse, Gabriel, who befriends him. Marcos is professional and responsible. He genuinely seems to care for the patients he treats and the hospital he works for. The compassionate man also happens to be an Angel of Death who euthanizes patients when they are beyond hope. He has a strict moral code that prevents killing anyone who isn’t near death. Marcos is tortured by his murders even as he considers them kindnesses. He is an antihero who has been made rather than born.

Gabriel is everything Marcos is not. He is young, attractive, outgoing, and unfettered by moral dilemmas. He kills whoever he wants whenever he wants and uses the hospital as a hunting ground. When Gabriel realizes he may have met a kindred spirit, the two men engage in a taut cat and mouse game.

The Argentinian film from writer/director Martin Kraut is a slow burn. Content to entertain more with tension and subterfuge than gore, this is a thriller that assertively holds it’s rhythm. Similar to the ebbs and flows of a hospital itself most of the film is plodding and thoughtful. It builds anxiety layer by layer until in the final act Gabriel and all his insanity is revealed. For lovers of a good paranoia-driven drama, this is ideal.

The film succeeds because of the comparison between the two men. Marcos has seen a lot in the ICU over the many years he has worked there. He has seen suffering, sadness, and death. It shaped who he became even as he grapples with the decisions he makes. Marcos is a disciplined man who saves his money, lives on a strict budget, and eats the same thing every day. The repeated use of canned peas is oddly disturbing, and just one of Kraut’s surprising choices. Gabriel, in contrast, kills for sport. He is charismatic, spontaneous, and selfish. For him killing is about power and boredom more than anything.

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Carlos Portaluppi(Marcos) is understated in his performance. Both his predilection to kill people and his reaction to the unfolding craziness from Gabriel is shaded in subtely. He is written well by Kraut and acted even better by Portaluppi, who applies a less is more approach that reads believably. Even when he can’t ignore what Gabriel is anymore, Marcos is still nonplussed. He doesn’t overreact, and Portaluppi does not overact as would often be the inclination.

That allows the more flamboyant performance of Ignacio Rogers(Gabriel) to skew kooky rather than cartoonish. Rogers does a great job playing the jester to Portaluppi’s straight man. He is impishly bad, clear through to the end. As most sociopaths are, he is likable and reasonable-sounding even when he is suggesting outlandish things. Those choices keep the film fresh as opposed to a rehashing of Swimfan and a host of other similar movies.

Courtesy of Alina Films

Cinematography by Gustavo Biazzi is successful in capturing the grime and sterility of a worn-out hospital. Interesting shot framing, especially of the beginning sequence foreshadows what is to come. Who is an Angel of Mercy and who is the Angel of Death are asked later. It is up to the viewer to decide if there is any difference.

La Dosis is a quirky film that speaks volumes in between the blips and beeps of hospital equipment. A heady mix of psychosexual tension and flat out sociopathic charm, this is the type of movie that demands contemplation. What is mercy, and does it justify murder? Do we ask too much of our healthcare workers, who, during the pandemic especially put their lives on the line? What do monsters look like? The ending is unexpected without being a ridiculous gotcha, and Kraut assuredly delivers a complete story.

La Dosis is available on-demand beginning August 20th, 2020, during Fantasia International Film Festival 2020. Tickets are available here. Follow all our ongoing Fantasia 2020 coverage here.