Day 7 of 31
Director: Martín Garrido BarónStarring: Raquel Arenas Alejo Sauras Antonio Mayans Spain 1h 32m
The Spanish are brilliant at making some very relaxed and chilled films with equally laid back characters, and what seems to shock more in this film is just how disturbed and playful this serial killer is, for most of the film he’s just mulling around the kitchen in a cardigan making delicious food and then when he gets the urge he’s raping women and chainsawing them into bloody pieces.
Apparently it’s not inspired by any real serial killer but it claims to have inspired various films such as Se7en (1995). So with these bold claims how could I not give this some attention… but I feel the claims are a little ambitious, while watching the film I could easily see a lot of connections to real killers but when you break things down it’s not all that impossible to find such connections when watching a movie about serial killers.
Antonio Frau (Fernando Acaso) is a serial killer, who has been released from prison (although from what I can make out the only person he killed was his girlfriend) but just like Edmund Kemper he has a plan, he’s going to get married and do up the hotel he has inherited from an unknown relative and in a way turn it into a self serving slaughter hotel almost with a similar vision to H H Holmes. His new bride is the kinky, stunning Rosa (Raquel Arenas) who is obviously fucking anything with a dick but his doesn’t bother Antonio at all. His obsession is fixing up his kill room, a table with chains in a plastic coated room and access to a water supply and ample sized freezer is all he can think of. Now all he needs are pretty young girls to lure inside but first he has to get the first kill out of the way, he’s lucky to find a drifter whose hunger catches him off guard and he poisons the young boy quite casually and practices his body disposal techniques. After this kill Antonio’s lusty needs are directed onto the vulnerable street girls who take pity on him and see his hospitality as a weakness. The pace slows down and things get a little repetitive, find a girl, feed her, agree that she pays for sex, lure her into the kinky kill room, rape rape rape, chainsaws and buckets of bloood!! Next girl.
Eventually the pace changes and once a detective is put onto the case things become tricky but our chilled killer has a way of sliding away from trouble like he’s coated in teflon but… don’t try to predict the ending of this peculiar film.
Martín Garrido Barón’s gentle overtones narrate the film from his point of view and he’s extremely honest and open about it motives and feelings, it gives the film an extra layer of strangeness and depth. Another intriguing aspect are the little out takes, a stop motion picnic with the wife ending with some doggy action over a fountain as one example, each memory flashback or highlight of his life apart from the killings is presented in it’s own unique arty way. (take note @Georg Rockall-Schmidt, stop motion is good). The biggest quirk is just how at peace Antonio is, as I said he potters around in comfortable slacks and comfy cardigans, there is no rushing about or panic, everything is so well planned he just mulls around and gets on with the task at hand with a sly smile on this fac, often looking at the sky and protesting his love for his wife. In one scene he almost gets angry, kicking a pimp down several flights of stairs and eventually beating him to death, Hannibal Lecter himself couldn’t have been cooler.
At times there is a warm feeling in the reto settings of the tenant building, Rosa returns from work with dinner ready on the table (no poison for her) and her ever loving husband asks about her day, it’s like a scene from a Jeunet et Caro film. Once a girl is strapped to the kill table the atmosphere changes a lot, not only are there lots of extended scenes of screaming and begging but the dark room and plastic sheeting make things sterile and detached.
Very early on it’s obvious that Antonio is a killer and a driven one at that, he’s got a tight plan and he’ll do anything to carry it out, there is no secrets with his slutty wife but what’s curious is why he’s going through with this plan but it makes for an interesting ending. His character builds, if only slightly, but you can feel that he’s getting his frustrations out of the way and his verbal diary entries are building a real book with photos and mementos much like John Doe from Se7en but it doesn’t seem as obvious or as expensive, he does become this amazing predator, literally everyone has a potential to be killed, he’s like a spider calling to the fly, come in and eat.. I have free room and board, whoops I seem to have slipped you into lingerie and oh dear you’ve become attached to a table and my dick is in you. He’s so “nice” about it.
It pivots on the scale of horror drama and disturbing torture porn, but while it’s being quaint and subtle, cultured and warm, once the girl is on the slab it can get a little monotonous as the torture scenes are so long and loud but after the ordeal they don’t add to the film, maybe the first one does but the rest are just repetitive and needless, it things would have been switched up a bit more then the film could have been more exciting. If you’re into such things as Irreversible (2002) and Serbian Film (2010) then you’ll be at home here. If you were sold on the idea of this being a pre running to Se7en (1995) then you’re less likely to be amazed but like me you might still get some “enjoyment” here, as it doesn’t deliver that kick of a religious killer toying with two cops, BUT it’s a varied film that’s not afraid to reach out and try different filming techniques, styles and some bizarre perspectives and to add in some humor where it’s least expected.
While I adore the film with some curiosity I do skip the porny bits, not that I’m afraid to watch such things, I just don’t feel that they achieve much, but it’s hard not to fall for Spain’s most polite and homely serial killer.
R – Irreversible (2002) Serbian Film (2010) Se7en (1995) Sexykiller (2008)
L – A-Z of Spanish Horror Films, Selected Spanish Films,