STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
• Trailer for the 8 Fangoria Frightfest titles
• Making of The Haunting featurette
It’s The Amityville Horror meets The Orphanage.
Director: Elio Quiroga
Cast: Ana Torrent, Hector Colome, Francisco Boira, Rocio Munoz, María Alfonsa Rosso, María Águila
A family moves into a house in the countryside of Spain after the birth of their new baby. The mother has had issues with the loss of a child ten years prior and is still dealing with the paranoia associated with that. When things start going supernatural in the new house, her husband worries that she might be losing her mind. But what does a woman coming out of a coma after 60 years and members of the Spanish church have to do with the history of the families new house?
” What is it Honey? Did you have a bad me?”
I’ve seen a few haunted house films in my day. Ever since watching the Robert Wise version of The Haunting I sort of fell in love. The problem is few film makers had any idea how to do this in a way that was at all scary. Just look at the remake of The Haunting to see how incredibly wrong a film can go. I don’t recommend watching it even for curiosities sake, though. That film was pretty dire. In the non-De Bont hands ,though, occasionally magic happened. So, long story-short, I hold out hope for these kind of films.
What we have with The Haunting(no relation) is a Spanish ghost story. This definitely falls in with some recent Spanish horror films,neatly alongside The Orphanage and The Devil’s Backbone. It has the whole child ghosts involved in a mystery thing going on. Much in the same way, it’s not terribly scary either. While I’m usually disappointed when they fail to make the ghosts too threatening or unsettling, if it’s in service of a good story all can be forgiven. Such is the Case with at least The Devil’s Backbone(and to a much lesser degree, The Orphanage). So that begs the question, is it worth the time investment?
“That damned Mr. Boogedy is back!”
Starting with a woman coming out of a catatonic state after 60 years. She is strangely without any muscle degradation. She is the last patient in a church held sanitarium. The bishop that put her there is now dead. Enter Father Miguel(Hector Colome), a priest with a troubled past and a wish to never doubt his own intuition again. He discharges her to her home. Elsewhere, we meet Francesca(Ana Torrent), a doctor working at a maternity ward, as she is baptising a baby that has died. She is advised to take a medical leave from her job after suffering from some post-partum depression in the months following the birth of her child.
Francesca and her husband Pedro(Francisco Boira) move to the countryside in hopes that Francesca will begin to find peace. The unexpected death of a child they had ten years earlier has left Francesca a paranoid mess. Once things start getting supernatural, you know it’s going to be solely based around her and that no one is going to believe her. That is how these things go. Her new neighbor, the previously catatonic Blanca(María Alfonsa Rosso), knows plenty about what happened there that is now causing her so much strife, but of course her semi insane state leaves her only capable of doling out information in bits and pieces. Eventually Francesca is led to the good natured Father Miguel, who after some initial misgivings is only too happy to start digging the dirt on a church he feels has done wrong, even if he assisted in some of them.
From this point on the film starts moving into territory that might be spoilery to tell. Suffice to say there is a lot of plot and it is filled with surprising reveals. This is one of the biggest problems I had with the movie, it is kind of convoluted. It seems to me that there is two movies going on here and what ends up on screen is a fusion of two ideas that the film makers had to create this ghost story. On the one hand you have this story of familial stress, leading into the mental dissolution of a bereaved mother. On the other hand you have a story of church sponsored follies that are coming back in the modern day to damage those caught in the middle. either one of these would have made for an interesting film in itself, forced together as they are, they become confusing and unfocused.
The acting is all top notch, and do the film great credit. Ana Torrent is really great at conveying the torment of her character. she is greatly injured by the death she feels guilty for, but with a new child she is also struggling not to destroy her life by becoming obsessed with the childs well being. Ana is really good at making her a real believable human being, that doesn’t act in ways that would take me out of the story. This delicate balance can’t have its importance overstated.
“Who the hell is that on that cross?”
Hector Colome is the secondary star of the picture. He gets that Miguel is the real hero of the film and he is able to make you root for him. His redemption is something I actually wanted to see occur. I appreciated that they never turned the character of Pedro, the husband of Francesca, too unrelatable. He had the tricky role of making him the disbelieving husband while keeping him from turning into an unlikable part of the movie. Maybe this is a credit to the writers as much as to Boira, but it was a relief to find that he never lost me. I could be just as much on his side as I was Francescas.
I don’t know exactly what they filmed this movie with, but it should be noted that I thought the picture quality was very sub-par. Much of the CGI backgrounds, while not unrealistic looking, had an unnatural feel to them. The rest of the effects work was not exactly to my tastes, but it looked good nonetheless.
Overall, I found this movie to be better than I had expected. Mind you, my expectations were quite low on this one. Maybe the first time I can say this for one of these DVD “festival” line titles, I would actually like to see more from the director(Elio Quiroga). It’s not great, but it definitely kept my attention. It certainly doesn’t hold up to the stadard of The Devil’s Backbone(what does?) and it is probably not as good as the comparable The Orphanage but it worked for me even if I found it a bit too busy. If you have the chance check it out, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend a buy on this one.
The film has both an English and Spanish language track and English subtitles. Included are trailer for this and the other 7 Fangoria Frightfest DVDs. There is also a surprisingly in depth Making of featurette. This isn’t a feature documentary or anything, but it’s definitely more than the usual EPK stuff. Caveat, stop with the terrible Exorcist cover rips. Shit is tired.