Curious filmgoers that enjoy shock and awe may enjoy Petla, but this will not be to everyone’s taste. I would approach with caution, and if you are easily offended, this is not for you.
It has been a long time since I watched a film at the cinema with my jaw dropped. Perhaps you have some moments in movies where you found yourself almost shocked by what was unfolding on the screen, but Petla certainly caught me off guard and left me wondering about the production in general.
We follow the story of policeman Daniel literally from the day he was born. There is graphic imagery of childbirth, followed by a montage of Dan growing up and becoming a police officer. There are moments of shock and graphic violence, but it is all imbued with a cheeky wink to the camera from director Patryk Vega. The opening scenes with Daniel and his partner being called to all manner of bizarre crime reports fools you into thinking that this is perhaps a very, very dark comedy. However, the shock and awe of the opening continues at a breakneck pace right through to the third act.
So much is crammed into the story of Petla, and the film feels like it has been edited by the team behind The Suicide Squad trailer. Events are cannonballed at the audience in such a frenetic way that you barely have time to take in what is happening. It’s an odd style, and it looks like Guy Ritchie may have been an inspiration here, but the pace is just so manic that you are left breathless and sometimes confused, both by the plot and the strange style of presentation.
Daniel meets with underworld twin brothers from Ukraine, and in an attempt to rise through the ranks, he bargains some information from them that boosts his position in the ranks. His realization that knowledge is power catapults him onto a journey that leads him down a few very dark paths, and after taking control of a notorious local brothel, his drug-fuelled descent into violence, murder, blackmail, and betrayal leads to carnage for everyone in his web.
The film has an 18 rating, and it earns its stripes very early on. This is not the sort of thing we see at the movies very often, and some of it is very jarring. I’m no prude but there are some moments that I imagine some viewers could find quite disturbing.
Things get so out of hand that I did wonder if perhaps it was an adaptation of a graphic novel I might have missed. If you are a fan of Garth Ennis’ work, it looked like something that he may have written, but as the end credits roll we see that it seems to be based on real events.
As we get to the third act, the pace slows all the way down, and at first, it is a relief to have some longer dialogue-driven scenes, but by this time it’s too late. The film has hardwired us into a certain style, and when it does start to circle the drain, it feels slow and plodding.
Curious filmgoers that enjoy shock and awe may enjoy Petla, which I think means “noose”, but as I said before, this will not be to everyone’s taste. I would approach with caution, and if you are easily offended, this is not for you. However it will have an audience and in a world of few film releases, it might do better than you think.