La habitación del niño (The Baby's Room)
This was a fascinating film made by an incredibly engaging and funny man, Álex de la Iglesia. He gave the audience a superb stand-up routine before and after the film as he talked about himself and the movie.
The film borders on some ideas that would be more suited in science fiction, but is firmly rooted in a suspenseful thriller with a few moments of wonderfully crafted terror.
The film focuses on Juan who, along with his wife Sonia and their daughter, move into their new house and slowly begin to discover that they might not be alone. They hear voices over the baby monitor, and Juan begins to become more and more obsessed with the idea that they aren't alone in the house.
He buys a video monitor so they can keep an eye on their baby, and one night he sees a figure on the screen, looking over their child's cot.
I won't go much further because I'll start to give away a bit too much of the story, suffice to say it is very cleverly written and filmed.
The slow deterioration of the character of Juan is played out very well, and there's not a foot wrong in the downward trend of the character. Javier Gutiérrez, the actor who plays him does a great job of moving him from sanity towards madness and then to realisation.
Leonor Watling, who plays Sonia, is also very good, and not only that but she was gorgeous to look at as well. They worked well together on screen as a couple, but her strongest moments were when she was terrified and protecting her child. Both actors give strong and believable performances.
There's a great use of the baby video monitor in the story, and it is quite a fascinating aspect to the story. What is great is that Álex de la Iglesia never tries to explain or over develop the concept, it's there, the character utilises it, and has his own realisations. There's no need for the explanatory dialogue, or scenes to show how and why things are happening as they do.
Some of the scenes involving the monitor provide the creepiest and scariest moments of the film.
There is a small moment of Hollywood during a scene where the couple fight to get to the top of the stairs, but it strikes a more amusing note than feeling too out of place.
Although the majority of the film is very much in the vein of a thriller, there are a few moments where horror pops out. One of the most notable is the where a woman is attacked with a lengthy screwdriver, the scene is quite brutal and chilling to watch. There is also a fantastic leap moment that managed to successfully catch a few people in the audience and make them leap some distance.
Once again we see that in this film, the third I've seen during the Dead by Dawn festival, a fair degree of humour, but in this film it is a humour based on real life, the kind of humour that you and I would utter and encounter in real life. In this way we find that it is even easier to identify with and connect to the characters and the story.
Now I have to speak about the ending in a not so positive light, there are some strong aspects such as the fact that everything isn't tied up and it feels more like a beginning for some characters. However I did feel that it was incredibly transparent, and that as soon as the couples fight is over I knew how the film would play out.
Yet is that such a bad thing? Perhaps not when considering the storyline itself, and it does actually feel like a very satisfying conclusion. Yet there's that very last shot that leaves us wondering what actually went on and what's going to happen next.
Surprisingly Álex tells us that this was a made for TV film, for a series that showed on Spanish TV called Películas para no dormir or Tales to keep you up at night, and that this one was a flop. That I find so hard to understand, for it is a very good film and one which received a great round of applause as the credits rolled, when Álex took to the stage, and also when he ended the Q&A.
He is a strange character, but he seemed sincere when he said that he firmly believes this is not the only reality there is. It sounded like he really wanted a debate about the idea of multiple universes. Unfortunately no one took him on and his Q&A was over.
I say Q&A, it was more like a diatribe where he made the entire audience laugh and yet managed to tell us quite a bit about life and filmmaking.
He told us that he really tried not to put anything into the film that would have been considered his own life, and yet you just can't help it. When you are making films you suddenly realise that what you are doing is directing some of your own life in there, and that's what this story is to him, it's about his family.
This is the first film I've seen of his, and it certainly won't be the last. This is a very strong film, and despite the more obvious ending, it provides some excellent ideas, performances and a great story on the way.
If you can find it, well worth watching, and if there are distributors out there looking for something new, take a look at this film.