(15) Running time: 94 mins
Director: Gabe Ibanez
Writer: Javier Gullon
Starring: Elena Anaya, Bea Segura, Mar Sodupe
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Using Pans Labyrinth and the Orphanage’s names prominently on the sleeve, its clear this Spanish chiller is hoping to ride on the back of their success. It offers up a mystery not a million miles from Ringu, and sticks with what seems to be the expected Spanish formula, slow slow build up that lets you get involved with the story and the characters to actually care about them. In this, the film succeeds, you care an awful lot for the mother of the tale and her pain and desperation. The film starts with an horrific car crash and a Mum wakes to find her son missing. We then jump to another story and we meet Maria and her son Diego. On a trip on a ferry, Diego goes missing and she panics trying to find him. Now, before you say Jodie Foster and Flightplan , this is more dramatic and the characters more believable. This aint no supernatural tale, or is it?
The Police search the ferry and her son never turns up, so now Maria tries to go about her everyday life, and now seems to have a phobia of water which results in numerous shower, swimming and stripping off on the beach scenes (ooh yes!!!). Anyway, she soon gets a call from the police asking her to come and identify a body washed up on an island, so she goes with her sister and believes the body not to be of her son. However, the police insist on a DNA test, and they must stay on the island and wait a few days for a Judge to be present. Letting her sister go, Maria starts to have strange visions, nightmares and an incredible will to find out the truth. She searches clue after clue, much to the annoyance of the police. Just what did happen to her son? who is it that washed up ashore? why do everyone on the island stick together? who is the strange German woman? and when will she next take her clothes off?
Its a great mystery, although, even at only 1 hour and 35 minutes, does begin to drag. Its a little too slow, however, an incredible score does build a nice atmosphere. It aint at all scary, and is missing what could be called a real edge. Fine performances do help, but this is nothing more than average, but with a Spanish twist. The ending is also incredibly drawn out and you feel like they explain it about ten times, just so you get it. If your heavily into your Spanish films then give it a go, otherwise it wont really appeal.