“I’m fed up with so much mystery!” Shouts in ‘La casa del caracol’ the writer played by Javier Rey while the shadows and the howls of the wolves loom over the forest that surrounds his house. Something similar could be said by the viewer of Macarena Astorga’s debut, presented at the festival in his native Malaga with more pain than glory. The sympathy aroused by the proposal, a genre movie set in the 70s, the golden age of Spanish fantasy, is not enough to warn of its serious problems.
Let’s play referrals. That zenith of the beginning that follows a car down a road is, of course, taken from ‘The glow’. Only instead of Jack Torrance and family on the way to the Overlook hotel we meet another writer, Antonio Prieto, who has rented a house in a town in the Malaga mountains in search of peace and silence. After picking up a disturbing dog that has been planted in the middle of the road, some children in the village refer us to the classic by Chicho Ibáñez Serrador, ‘Who can kill a child?’. Shortly after we meet a deformed Sloth-like being from ‘The Goonies’, that the neighbors keep locked up. And all the Stephen King stories about a writer’s creative delusions.
Only the woman who rents him the house (Paz Vega) seems not to live in the world of legends and superstitions that grips the inhabitants of the town, as if they were still anchored in a previous Spain. When the director changes her point of view in the middle of the film, which until then was that of the writer, the viewer ignores the plot. There are narrative clumsiness such as two characters talking secretly and the protagonist listening to them on the other side of the window. You know that something is wrong if in a supposedly dramatic scene in which the character of Paz Vega cries, the audience laughs, as happened in the press pass in Malaga.
Macarena Astorga wastes great actors like Pedro Casablanc and Elvira Mínguez, who are crying out for more presence. Nor does it tune into the atmosphere of that Rural Spain anchored in myths and inherited neighborhood conflicts, that other films have been able to capture. The epilogue is just blushing.