Holidays Will Never Be the Same Again
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this two-time Sundance director wants to scare you away from owning a timeshare.
By Justin Higginbottom
OZY is reporting live all this week from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
“Paradise is within reach,” the characters in Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) are constantly reminded. But when this film gets going — paradise seems far off indeed. Mexican director Sebastián Hofmann’s second Sundance film follows a family on a much-needed vacation. But things are off from the very beginning. The house where they’re meant to stay is double-booked, forcing them to stay with a creepily happy family. Meanwhile, promises from the corporate rental firm grow increasingly sinister.
The lobby of a condominium, crowded swimming pools filled with vacationers and dark, dingy laundry areas take on ominous airs. Tension is heightened by an original soundtrack of throbbing, unnerving music. The film teeters on comedy, psychological thriller and horror — all before paranoid scenes of pink flamingos and floral shirts. The film doesn’t give its audience easy answers, but it does give them a sense of dread.
Hofmann and co-writer Julio Chavezmontes sat down with OZY at Sundance to discuss the film, and they notably did not try to sell us a timeshare. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What made you decide to tell this unnerving story?
Sebastián Hofmann: I wanted to set a film in this universe and explore this sinister world. I was greatly inspired by The Shining. I lived in one of these hotels because my mom used to sell timeshares when I was a little kid.
The middle class is disappearing. We’re running out of resources in every sense of the word — physical resources and philosophical resources.
Where are these timeshares supposed to be?
Hofmann: It takes place in Mexico, but I think the movie is universal. These places exist everywhere. They operate the same way, and they look alike. I didn’t want the movie to feel geographic. It could be anywhere, and it could be a story about anybody.
In the U.S., people can be tricked into these real estate schemes while chasing the American dream. Is it the same in Mexico?
Hofmann: Of course. It’s a middle-class dream. It’s a phenomenon that happens everywhere. The white picket fence exists everywhere.
How is the middle class doing in Mexico?
Hofmann: It’s tough. It’s just like everywhere else. The middle class is disappearing. We’re running out of resources in every sense of the word — physical resources and philosophical resources.
Spousal tension and conflict play a large part in the film. What did you want to explore with this?
Julio Chavezmontes: When writing, we had the revisionist Dracula films in mind and how the hunters become the monsters. To us it felt like you had these husbands that were broken and were unable to find their place. But the response is to kind of destroy everything. They really hold their wives back because the wives are flourishing. In that way, they become the monsters of the film.
How did you develop the eerie soundtrack?
Hofmann: Tone and atmosphere are my favorite brushes to paint with in cinema. And the film’s composer, Giorgio Giampà, is such an amazing musician. His music was an artistic intervention in the film. It’s a very sadistic film, and so we needed a very sadistic soundtrack.
What’s next for both of you?
Chavezmontes: We are working on something else. We can’t talk about it, but there is definitely a connection with everything we write. Some ideas will carry on for sure.
- Justin Higginbottom, OZY Author Contact Justin Higginbottom