KING OF THE HILL
(El Rey de la Montaña)
The Spanish-made King of the Hill which is not in any way related to the popular satirical US animated tv series King of the Hill (1997-2010) is another entry in this European Backwoods Brutality cycle. There are a number of similarities between King of the Hill and Them both films keep the assailants pursuing the couple as shadowy figures before revealing them to be children at the end, while both films leave explanations for what is happening at a scanty minimum, while the cross-country pursuit by disturbed children was also a feature of the British Eden Lake. Indeed, very little that happens in King of the Hill that is ever given much explanation like why Maria Valverde steals Leonardo Sbaraglias wallet? Or even if the car with the baby seat in the back is hers or stolen too? Who the boys are and why they are hunting people? Or who the man that Leonardo Sbaraglia runs over is and what his relation to the boys is?
Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego does well. He does not show the central characters being brutalised and tortured to extremes as Eli Roth or Darren Lynn Bousman might King of the Hill is relatively restrained in the gore department. Essentially, Lopez-Gallego sets the situation up in the most minimally sketched terms possible we learn nothing about Leonardo Sbaraglia (what he does, why he is going to visit his girlfriend, anything beyond a name) and even less about why things are happening and then keeps throwing spins and jolting twists on it Leonardo Sbaraglia finding his wallet has been stolen, the shots abruptly fired at his car out of nowhere, the arrests, the shooting of the police officers. The hunters are hardly seen until about the last 10 minutes of the film appearing only as distant figures on hilltops or more commonly represented by bullets flying out of the blue the focus of the film is on the harrowing struggle for survival by the victims. Everything hovers with an uncertainty we know so little about the situation that we cannot be certain for much of the film whether Maria Valverde stole Leonardo Sbaraglias wallet to lure him away or whether the two policemen are part of the backwoods assault as well. Lopez-Gallego puts us through some harrowing moments notably the traversal of the rocks where bullets start coming and the constable gets trapped between rocks with a broken leg and succeeds in giving us a more than fair run-through for our money.
Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego next made the NASA Moon Landing/alien possession mockumentary Apollo 18 (2011), the horror film Open Grave (2013) and the non-genre The Hollow Point (2016).