Showing posts with label Luis Tosar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luis Tosar. Show all posts

8 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 - Musaranas (2015)

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Horror, Thriller
Dead By Dawn 2015
Rating: 15
Juanfer Andrés, Esteban Roel
Macarena Gómez, Hugo Silva, Luis Tosar ,Tomás del Estal

Winning the audience award for best feature at Dead by Dawn is no small feat. The Edinburgh horror festival has a tight group of in-depth genre fanatics who know their stuff and get exposed to the newest and best once a year. Juanfer Andres and Esteban Roel’s Musaranas (AKA Shrew’s Nest) is a beautiful powerhouse of dysfunctional family gothic not to be missed.

Montse (Macarena Gomez) is an agoraphobic dressmaker, confined to the cosy but isolated dwellings of her childhood home many years after her parents’ deaths. Hermana (Nadia de Santiago), Montse’s beautiful younger sister, has just turned 18 and is beginning to take her first steps into adult life. After finding a man unconscious with a broken leg in her stairwell, Montse makes a decision that sees her delicate world begin to unravel.

Sure Musaranas shares its lonely spinster story with Misery, but that’s about the only parallel. Andres and Roel have, impressively, left all vestiges of similar thematic endeavours out in the cold by making sure Musaranas is 100% its own beast. Everything about the story, characters, events, and even locations is distinctly infused with clean-cut insanity and dilute garishness. Misery is winter gothic, bound to the isolation of the Colorado Mountains, where Musaranas is equally reliant on the vibrant social atmosphere of its small town.

Musaranas is wise not to operate beyond its brief. It doesn’t push itself so far that the weight of its finely tuned black humour crushes the horror aspect, or vice versa. Andres and Roel know exactly when they want us to laugh, cover our eyes, and sit right on the precipice of our seats just waiting to see where this domestic nightmare will turn next.

Macarena Gomez steals the show, there’s no way around it. Her particular brand of matriarchal madness is an absolutely arresting delight. Thankfully Gomez understands that insanity is a difficult sell: often silly when handled incorrectly. But in Musaranas her portrayal of the delicate Montse is somewhere between prim and perverted, a pitch-perfect horror character with as much depth and heart as any of the genre’s best villains. Luis Tosar (Sleep Tight) appears as the girls’ fierce father, every bit the bad guy but touchingly subject to his own foul demons. It’s a hard thing to pull off a guy like this whilst enabling the audience some window into his mind, but its executed wonderfully.

An incredible piece of work for a debut feature; tightly edited and written, expertly cast, and sporting a slew of finely tuned comic, horror, and family themes in such a concise way it’s impossible not to enjoy. Musaranas is a perfect vignette, a peek into the bubbling hive of anxiety that is family.

Scott Clark

28 August 2012

Frightfest 2012 - Sleep Tight Review

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Director Jaume Balagueró flies solo with Sleep Tight, a film that – like his most famous effort – once again takes place in a apartment building, however this time his film has more in common with the classic cinema of Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski than the modern zombie horror of Balagueró’s [REC].

Sleep Tight follows Cesar (Tosar), the quiet, helpful and polite concierge of an apartment block in Barcelona. However his polite exterior hides something much more… sinister. Relishing in tormenting Veronica, an old lady who lives all alone in her apartment surrounded by her pets and at odds with one of the buildings younger tenants, Cesar spends most of his days plotting against Clara, a happy-go-lucky young woman with whom he has an unhealthy obsession. An obsession that, as the film progresses, gets crueler and deadlier.

It’s clear to see why many have already dubbed this the Spanish equivalent of a Hitchcock flick. Sleep Tight feels very much like the maestro of horror’s Psycho, with Spanish superstar Luis Tosar seemingly channeling Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates. The film also has shades of Polanski’s early work, in particular Repulsion and, of course, The Tenant. It’s a credit to director Jaume Balagueró that whilst it is set in yet another apartment block, Sleep Tight looks and feels light years away from [REC], yet imbues the same creepy atmosphere.

Like the aforementioned classics of the genre, Sleep Tight succeeds thanks to the performance of its central actor, in this case leading man Luis Tosar. A Spanish acting superstar, Tosar is best know outside of his home country for Miami Vice, the Michael Mann helmed remake of the 80s TV show. Here he gives nothing away in his role as Cesar, playing his emotions and his motivations close to his chest until the films story, and Cesar’s plans for Clara, spiral out of control. At first Balagueró would have us think that Cesar is taking out his frustrations at being lonely on the tenants in his building, but it isn’t until the films stunning, and I do mean stunning, conclusion, that Cesar’s motivations become clear… The pursuit of happiness.

Whilst many a thriller such as this would have a forgone conclusion (after all any movie psycho should get his comeuppance right?), Sleep Tight breaks with convention with a conclusion that offers an explanation for everything that has come before and brought a wry smile to my face. And whilst genre films typically have you rooting for the put-upon heroine, Balagueró reverses genre conventions leaving you happy that Cesar accomplishes his goal. It’s an odd feeling rooting for the films psycho come the films denouement but at the same time a refreshing one – both Balagueró and Tosar must be commended for such an achievement.

A complex, gripping, and in the end unpredictable, thriller that manages, in a genre almost defined by cliche, to shock and surprise, Sleep Tight is yet another sure-fire hit from Jaume Balagueró, proving that Hitchcock’s spirit is still alive and kicking in European cinema.

This Was A review by Phil at Blogomatic3000

Rating: 15
UK Release Date: 26th August 2012 (Frightfest)
Directed By: Jaume Balagueró
Cast: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan, Petra Martínez