La Vampira de Barcelona, The Barcelona Vampiress (2020)
Directed by: Lluís Danés
Written by: Lluís Danés, María Jaén
Starring: Alejandra Howard, Bruna Cusí, Francesc Orella, Nora Navas, Núria Prims, Pablo Derqui, Roger Casamajor, Sergi López
THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS (2020)
Grimmfest Easter Edition 2020 Review
Spanish Language with English Subtitles
Set in early 20th century, the whole of Barcelona is rocked by the abduction of a young girl named Teresita. When she is found, her captor Enriqueta Martí is labelled the Vampiress of Barcelona and is accused of murdering a number of street children, stealing their hearts and making ointments out of their fat. However, is she really responsible for the disappearance of the local street kids or are the elite of Barcelona hiding a more terrible secret?
Based on a true story, THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS explores the accusations and what could have been the real truth behind the disappearance of impoverished children in Barcelona during the early 1900’s. Following the investigation through main character Sebastià Comas, an accomplished journalist, Comas devotes himself to finding out whether Martí is capable of crimes she’s been accused of and why the authorities seem to be blissfully ignorant of facts that he’s seen with his own eyes: that the Barcelona elite are using children for their own sexual gratification.
There’s no better time to tell this story than now, with child exploitation, abuse and trafficking starting to be exposed on a global stage though abuse of minors is not a recent thing. Children being sold for sex, slavery or work has gone on for centuries and this film highlights this in a case where a woman is labelled as a murderer with very little evidence to back up the claim.
In the film, we see how the police have ignored investigating the disappearance of homeless children but are compelled to when Teresita disappears as her family are more respectable. When the father of another child that has long since gone missing gets in touch with Comas, the journalist decides to dig deeper and finds that it isn’t just adult kinks being satiated at a local brothel, but the taste for children as well. Though compelled to get the truth out there, Comas seems to come across several obstacles and his written word is twisted to fit a truth that suits his superiors, the authorities and the elite. Will Comas ever be able to get to the bottom and expose the true culprits of these crimes to the public?
THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS is an absolute feast for the eyes. The method of the story-telling is dripping in exquisite style which you’ll find hard to tear your eyes away from. One of my favourite shots involves a scene in which we see Sebastia’s editor approaching in the corridor whilst Sebastia is processing his photographic prints in a dark room. As though the set has been sliced down the middle, we see both characters in the two different locations interacting in one shot, the red light glowing inside the dark room. This is just one in many instances of creative cinematography which will transfix film aficionados.
Red is a really important colour within the film as this is generally the only flourish of colour we see in this monochromatic creation apart from a few scenes of colour. The red of the blood stains; the red opulence within the brothel as lust takes control; a red toffee apple. This selective use of colour really makes the film pop and whilst this is a brilliant piece of storytelling anyway regarding one journalist’s quest to expose the truth, the movie itself is a creation to behold.
Whilst it may be a simple narrative in theory, THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS contains a lot of depth, urging the viewer to assess the facts that Comas is privy to. Without a doubt, the film will instil a sense to question everything around you and not to take everything on face value especially where the media and authorities are involved.
A truly outstanding piece of cinema, THE BARCELONA VAMPIRESS is a breathtaking interpretation highlighting an alternative view to a tragic, true crime in Spanish history.