The View From Here

How To Love Spanish Horror Movies

Michael Bonner

Now that Masterchef is over – oh, well done James, but rats, I still think it should have been Emily – normal service has been resumed on the blog. I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on some DVDs, as well as finally getting round to seeing a fantastic Spanish horror film, The Orphanage.

Spain has developed a reputation for making thoughtful and engaging psychological horror films, a class away from the kind of generic slasher films Hollywood seems content to bash out. Central to this are Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others and Guillermo Del Toro’s Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone. You might well have seen The Others, simply because it was made in English with Nicole Kidman and got a pretty big distribution in the UK, through Miramax. If you’ve not seen Cronos or The Devil’s Backbone, I’d recommend them – they’re both elegant and atmospheric films, rather poetic, in fact, in the way they handle familiar horror movies tropes, in this case, vampires and ghosts, respectively. The Devil’s Backbone, incidentally, is sort of a companion piece to Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth; both are set during the Spanish Civil War and feature children as their protagonists, though Pan’s Labyrinth is more of a fantasy film, I suppose, than Backbone.

Del Toro, incidentally, acts as producer on The Orphanage, directed by debuting Juan Antonio Bayona. If Pan’s Labyrinth was a take on Alice In Wonderland, then The Orphanage riffs on another Victorian children’s novel, Peter Pan. With its storyline concerning a missing child, and the distress it causes his mother Laura, you could argue it’s JM Barrie’s story as seen from the point of view of Mrs Darling.

Anyway, I don’t want to go on too much about it here – I’ve reviewed it in the next issue of UNCUT. I would say, though, that if you’ve not seen any of the other films I’ve mentioned above, then do rent, buy or download.

Elsewhere, I’ve been watching some new Futurama – back after its two-year hiatus. As seems to be the case with a lot of zippy, 30 minute TV series stretched out to movie length, it lags. Though the opening 25 minutes is fantastically funny, and contains plenty of sarky digs at the Fox Network, who originally cancelled the series.

Also, I watched the other night Bruce Webber’s extraordinary doc on Chet Baker, Let’s Get Lost, which is due for a limited theatrical release in May, and then comes out on DVD in June.

I’ll save this for a blog next week, as I seem to have scribbled a hefty pile of notes on it.


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