Sep. 8th, 2016

alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Kestrell and I watched this Spanish-language horror movie today. It was of obvious interest to her since it featured not one but two characters suffering from visual impairment. Sturgeon’s Law applies even to such niche categories as “horror movies about blind women”, so it was a pleasant surprise to find one that was well made and not overly clichéd.

Our protagonist, Julia, appears to be in her 30s, is happily married, and works in an observatory. Her twin sister, Sara, and she both suffer from a degenerative condition that is slowly driving them blind. Sara goes completely blind first, and as the movie opens, appears to commit suicide. Julia, however, remains unconvinced, and insists on looking for a deeper motive, despite the objections of both the police and her own husband. Naturally, she discovers more than a few secrets that Sara was keeping, and before long finds herself targeted by a killer whom no one else believes exists…

As the plot develops, there are quite a number of interesting twists, only a few of which even Kestrell saw coming. Reading some reviews of the movie later, I noticed that some people complained about plot holes; I honestly didn’t see any. To be sure, there were places where in order to understand what was going on, you had to be observant and put the pieces together yourself; this was not a film that wanted a big exposition scene after the climax.

In fact, I was impressed with how little explicit exposition there was. A lot of information was delivered, but generally through very naturalistic dialogue, or through clever camera movements and NO dialogue. The director makes frequent use of POV shots, and they usually reveal aspects of character as well as plot. One of my favorite things that the movie does is, during the sections where Julia is nearly or completely blind, they subtly indicate the impact on her by never showing any character’s face EXCEPT for her own. Other people are viewed from the back, or are standing out of frame, or what have you. In this way, you feel viscerally the manner in which she is no longer able to gain information from facial expressions – or, indeed, facial recognition!

While I greatly enjoyed this film, I’m afraid that relatively few people reading this review would also like it. It is slower paced and less violent than a typical giallo movie, but has considerably more violence and action than your typical psychological thriller. Also, be warned that there are some fairly significant invocations of the old Injury-To-Eye Motif, so if that’s a squick point for you, stay away.

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Alexx Kay

June 2017

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