Jul 122012

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From Jaume Balagueró, the co-director/co-screenwriter of [Rec] and [Rec] comes a chilling thriller about one man’s obsession and it’s horrifying consequences. Check out my review of Sleep Tight/Mientras duermes after the jump.

César (Luis Tosar) is the ‘concierge’ (a job which seems to include being a doorman, a handyman, & security) of a reasonably nice apartment complex in Barcelona.  Although he is outwardly friendly and kind to the residents, inside he harbours a bitter resentment towards those who are happy, and he is consumed by his hatred of them. César is obsessed with one particular resident, a beautiful young woman named Clara (Marta Etura), who appears to life a happy and full life. The happier Clara appears, the more and more it eats away at César, until he finally decides that he hast to do something to halt, or at least significantly lessen her constant happy disposition.

In this taut and suspenseful thriller, we are taken on a journey into the dark mind of a very sick individual. The film is primarily shown from César’s perspective, and we are given a fascinating insight into his actions and the motivation behind them. While it starts off as only small (but still extremely intrusive and disturbing) acts, César’s actions escalate at an alarmingly quick rate, when he feels that he isn’t making Clara miserable enough. The manner which César goes about his acts is extremely unnerving, and it made me (an apartment-dweller) feel very uncomfortable. The thought of someone you believed you could trust (that has access to your home) violating you in this way is horrifying.

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The triumph of this film is the fact that César becomes an antihero of sorts, and while you are repulsed by him, for a time you find yourself actually not wanting him to be caught. He is a very lonely and disturbed man, and it’s hard not to feel some degree of sympathy towards him. Luis Tosar must be commended for this understated performance – he gives César just the right degree of humanity and darkness. He could have easily played César as a full-on maniac, but instead he gives César a creepily calm demeanor – you know something is not quite right with him, but until you see what he does, it isn’t obvious. Marta Etura (Tosar’s real life partner) also gives a great performance as Clara – it is impossible not to feel upset by what her character is put through.

Director Jaume Balagueró has created a skin-crawlingly disturbing thriller with his suspenseful direction. The use of long segments of absolute silence coupled with close-ups of the characters where we can really feel their fear or anticipation, creates an extremely atmospheric film which will leave you chilled. The film is well-paced, and for the most part is very tight – my one criticism would be that a sub-plot involving César’s obsession with another resident of the apartment complex is underdeveloped and doesn’t add anything to the story or tell us anything more about his character. Focusing solely on his obsession with Clara would have made the character more sinister and the story just that more compelling.

Showing as the closing night film at the Spanish Film Festival around Australia in July, this is a film worthy of your time and your nerves.


The Facts

Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writer(s): Alberto Marini
Starring: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan
Runtime: 102 minutes