Heli (Armando Espitia) and his father Evaristo (Ramón Álvarez) both work at the sleek car factory that's a shortish cycle ride across the dusty plain on which their small home is situated.
But the family, which also includes Heli's wife Sabrina (Linda González) and their baby, inhabit a world where it's as dangerous to cross paths with the government forces tasked with ending the drugs trade as it is the dealers and traffickers.
And so it's with desperate bad luck that Heli's 12-year-old sister Estela (Andrea Vergara) naively agrees to hide a drug stash for her 17-year-old boyfriend, Beto (Juan Eduardo Palacios), a federal police cadet.
The favour sparks a chain of events that brings both sides of the drugs war to the family's door, and neither party has any qualms about the shocking levels of harrowing violence they're prepared to dispense.
The scenes of brutality and extended torture were too much for some when the film premiered at Cannes in 2013, but in hindsight it's not difficult to see why this visceral exploration of life on the wrong side of the power divide won Escalante the prize for Best Director, and the film a nomination for the Palme d'Or.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
(2013) Cert: 18