|Index||8 reviews in total|
An elderly man returns to his home town, having left the country in his
youth. During the course of his homecoming, we see flashbacks to his
past and learn of his love affair with a woman branded a witch by the
deeply religious locals. However, all is not as it seems and his
jealousy and infatuation set into action a course of events that come
back to haunt him years later...
A stylish, slow-paced but unnerving ghost story that combines M.R. James-style apparitions with an emotionally-driven story and some nicely handled, subtle twists. If you're looking for a "BOO!" shock movie, look elsewhere, though: this is a thoughtful, atmospheric and emotionally-engaging exploration of the effects of guilt, with a supernatural edge. You'll need patience to fully appreciate the movie, as the story unfolds at its own pace and those looking for outright shocks will need to look elsewhere (although when the scares come, they're handled well) but if you're looking for an intelligent, haunting drama, stick with it. You won't be disappointed.
After the suicide of his wife Greta (Elsa Bodem) overseas, the sixty
years old Tomás (Jordi Dauder) receives a tarot card and returns to his
hometown in Spain. While driving, he recalls through flashbacks his
adolescence in the 60's in a primitive and superstitious village in the
countryside. While studying with his friends Carlos (David Arnaiz) and
Vicente (Adrián Marín), they tell rumors about Moira (Natalia Millán),
the lonely newcomer that lives in a house on the hill. In accordance
with the beatas of the village, the gorgeous Moira would be a witch
that had encounters with the devil during the night. They decide to
snoop Moira, and Tomás (Juan José Ballesta) stumbles on a root, falls
and faints. When he awakes, he is in Moira's bed, and the woman treated
his ankle and washed his clothes. He returns to her house and has an
affair with her, and becomes obsessed by Moira. His crush becomes
obsession, which associated to his jealousy and the ignorance of the
locals, leads Moira to a tragedy.
The underrated "Regreso a Moira" is one of the most beautiful, sensitive, stylish, touching and engaging movies that I have recently seen. The heartbreaking story is developed in a very slow pace disclosing a powerful drama of a man haunted by the remorse of his action in his adolescence. There is no horror in the story, only a psychological drama in the head of an elderly man and trigged after the suicide of his wife. The screenplay, the direction and the performances are awesome, and I was impressed with the beauty of the unknown (in Brazil) Natalia Millán. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Chamado do Passado" ("Call from the Past")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As of the date of writing this, the boxed set of 6 Spanish horror films
to keep you awake" of which this is a part is selling for silly
collectors' prices in the UK, whereas the Region 1 copy I recently got
from the USA came out of the bargain bin. And how pleased I am I took a
gamble on it, as each and every one of the shortish (75 min) films (TV
programmes?) has proved a real treat. They're not necessarily uniformly
successful, but they're beautifully filmed, convincingly performed, and
each brings real intelligence and no little originality to its
execution. As a whole, the series bears comparison with the American
"Masters of Horror", and I think betters them, though it's a little
unfair to say that as with only six episodes there's less opportunity
to mis-fire. Still, overall, I can't overstate my recommendation to any
horror fan looking for some rewarding alternative to the current
relentless diet of zombies, torture and
Equally, though, there's no doubt in my mind that this episode is the standout. At heart this is a fairly straightforward ghost story (and there are even echoes of Peter Straub's "Ghost Story" in the plot device of old men reminiscing about a femme fatale of their adolescence), but the elements are orchestrated with real skill, and the "twist" (derided by one reviewer here as "making no sense" oh, but believe me, it makes very terrible sense indeed) came as a real shock to me, no less for being delivered with perfect timing, by which I mean I realised what the old man (Tomas) was going to see in the window just a split second before he actually saw it, but no sooner. Beyond the immediate rewards of actually watching it though a creepy accumulation of authentic dread, just enough real shocks, and full-on gore barely glimpsed the film continues to haunt the imagination and it is only in retrospect that its full dreadful implications become clear. Though in my mind this film sits alongside "The Devil's Backbone" , Del Toro's film for all its political and historical complexity ends up with an almost cornily (but charmingly so) traditional ghost, and the final message is a profoundly humanistic one of love and simple courage. No such redemptive hope enlivens "Spectre", however, the devastating nihilism of which only becomes fully clear as you contemplate afterwards the ramifications of the terrible events portrayed. There is a wrong, or possibly several wrongs, at the heart of this drama, and the younger Tomas perpetrates an act of betrayal both ugly and banal, the consequences of which are truly terrible. But has he, or indeed any of the characters in the film since nobody emerges happy, or successful actually erred to the extent of deserving the appalling comprehensive undoing that comes to him and them? And to what extent is Tomas even responsible; arguably, his betrayal was only the convenient trigger for what was inevitably to follow. The awful, anti-humanist, irrationalist thought occurs that actually he was doomed before the film even began. At the opening of Dante's Inferno, Dante finds himself lost "I took a turn in a dark wood" - but can't think where he went wrong, and so it is with Tomas, whose steps we try to retrace with mounting bewilderment. He was only a schoolchild! But as Tomas's lover hauntingly says to him "I am the weaver of your destiny ". These thoughts and speculations are profoundly shocking to those of us who hope to believe in the power of rationality and the possibility of human progress.
I apologise for talking in these oblique terms, but I am hoping to pique the reader's interest and make them want to see this film without having to introduce a spoiler warning.
As a sub-species of the horror film, the ghost story is particularly difficult to carry off. Perhaps it's because whereas the written word can evoke the darkest imaginings of the reader's nightmares, the literal camera can only really portray them, and inevitably ends up with a Caspar-like banality. I'm trying to tick great filmed ghost stories off on my fingers, and I fear just one hand will do (with perhaps the other hand for ones I only know by reputation, like Kwaidan). There's Devil's Backbone, Robert Wise's The Haunting, Don't Look Now (though as with the Devil's Backbone, this is not the ghost you were first thinking of). What else? Possibly Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape, though that is filmed and performed in an early 70s TV style that is now distractingly dated. Curse (or Night) of the Demon? True, that was from a tale by M.R.James, but it's not really a proper ghost story. One of the greatest ghost stories written post WW2 is Elizabeth Jane Howard's "Three Miles Up", but that received a dismally inappropriate British TV treatment, as clunkily and uncomprehendingly literal-minded as the lamentable remake of The Haunting. We can argue about the details of what is and isn't on the list, but my recommendation is clear. This little gem is a real find, and sits deservedly in this very exclusive company.
This was my first experience of the series of Spanish TV horror films collectively entitled 8 Films To Keep You Awake, and I was really somewhat surprised by how much it struck me, how affecting I found it. It tells of an old man, Tomas who is sent a Tarot card and returns to his childhood town in order to see who sent it, remembering as he does so his teenage romance with a lonely lady who he befriended. Thought the film at first gives the impression that it is due to be more spooky, as it goes on it moves away from horror territory, it is more a slow burning and poignant look at young love, its consequences and the passage of time, it has supernatural accoutrements but the film is mostly drama and it does remarkably well in its small run time. Writer/director Mateo Gil spins a compelling tale rich in hot, languid atmosphere, the flashbacks that take up much of the film hum with a sad, nostalgic longing but the modern day scenes have a contrasting adept chill. The performances all come off nicely, Juan José Ballesta has the appropriate shades of lust, curiosity and naiveté as young Tomas while Jordi Dauder is drawn and tired as his older self. Natalia Millán is very fine as the lonely and beautiful Moira, sensual, mysterious and kindly, mixing attraction and inscrutability very well. Decent performances come too from David Arnaiz and Adrián Marín as friends of young Tomas, and slightly frayed, colder turns from José Ángel Egido and Miguel Rellán as their older counterparts. The film is a little predictable and its scope is slight, but I found myself unusually moved, its quiet chills, and classic story combined with beautiful presentation and ever useful messages (against jealousy, superstition and mob mentality) make for a thoroughly classy and enthralling time. Well recommended for those who enjoy MR James style horror or creepy drama fare, though fans of fast paces and boo scares should avoid.
Spain has a long and successful tradition of horror / supernatural
cinema . Who can forget the spine chilling LA CABINA , a film that does
for public phone boxes what JAWS does for trips to the sea side . We've
also seen the likes PANS LABYRINTH and THE OTHERS become international
hits opening to great critical acclaim . We even saw Danny Boyle's
sequel to 28 DAYS LATER being directed by a Spanaird which turned out
to be one of my favourite horror films ever so had a lot of
expectations to seeing SPECTRE tonight . Afterwards I wouldn't say I
was I was disappointed just that this movie has been advertised as a
horror film when it's really a morbid love story with supernatural
This isn't helped by the " Films To Keep You Awake " title sequence of having an animated pool of blood where a hand appears holding a human eyeball . It's grotesque and startling and gory which is everything SPECTRE is not . Instead we get a teenage boy , Tomas , being infatuated with a much older woman called Moira along with a subtext that is anti- religion as the catholic family and friends of Tomas decide Moira is a witch
With a longer running time perhaps the subtext could have been developed more since I'm the sort of person who can't get enough secular humanism in either real life or fiction . Instead director Mateo Gil concentrates on the love story . There's nothing wrong with this of course but for long passages of the movie you forget that this has any supernatural elements and when they do fleetingly appear they feel forced . Indeed you're left with the feeling perhaps the whole film would have worked better if there were no ghostly elements at all and the film portrayed religion and the small mindness of religious followers as the villain of the piece which would have certainly have made for a better ending
"Spectre" (aka "Regreso a Moira") had potential, but it wasn't fully
utilized, and the movie turned out to be anything by scary. And I was
really hoping for something vile, especially with this on the DVD
cover: "1 of 4 movies to keep you awake". Right, I wonder what kind of
low scare tolerance that person who wrote that had.
This isn't really a horror movie in the traditional sense. If you sit down to watch the movie with the hopes to be scared, like I did, then you will be sorely disappointed. This movie is a movie about obsession, but with a slight supernatural twist.
What made the movie manage to keep being interesting and watchable, despite its lack of spooks and scares, was the acting and the phenomenal switching between past and present. Director Mateo Gil really managed to keep a great flow to the storyline with his switching between past and present.
Without revealing the ending, I will say that the revealing of what Tomás saw in the house on that fateful night was really a stroke of genius and it lifted up the movie quite well.
All in all a watchable movie, just a shame that there was a lack of scares to be had.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A singular event can haunt you the rest of your life. This is the case for Tomás(Jordi Dauder), an old man returning to the Spanish village which was once his home, now modernized except for the home of an accused "witch", which remains an eyesore for those who were alive that fateful day when Moira(the luscious Natalia Millán)was burned alive. Considered a heretic visited by men at her home at night(or that is what Tomás keeps hearing), Moira is shunned as an outcast by the nearby Spanish village which functions as deeply Catholic, rife with gossiping busybodies who have nothing better to do than belittle someone who doesn't share their personal beliefs. This mini-film, part of the Spanish series, "6 films to keep you awake", alternates between two time periods..Tomás as a teenager head-over-heels in love(or infatuated/obsessed)with Moira and the Tomás as a tormented relic, bitter and anguished, recovering from his wife's suicide, having never recuperated from the horrifying moment when his beloved was taken from him. SPECTRE comments on forbidden love, ghosts from the past, and fanaticism where a village decides to become judge, jury, and executioner over the "whore" in their midst. SPECTRE takes the fantasy of a teenage boy and a sexy older woman engaging in a torrid love affair and weaves a tragic tale, sumptuously photographed. It's inevitable that the relationship for Tomás and Moira will not end happily due to outside factors. Natalia Millán is the perfect embodiment of the dangerous woman that seduces your thoughts, who has you staring at the ceiling contemplating the caress of her body, needing to hold and touch her, at times unable to do so, yet wanting to badly. SPECTRE elaborates how the past can forever hold someone in its grip, which is the case of the elder Tomás. You can just see the decades of regret and disappointment written on the face of Dauder, having never let go of Moira's memory. I imagine the character relived those passionate moments with Moira time and again--to relinquish those feelings is impossible. He's motivated to return to the place of his youth thanks to a tarot card sent to him by someone..once he gets there, Moira's presence engulfs him.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira is set in Sapin & starts as
businessman Tomas (Jordi Dauder) travels back to the small Spanish
village where he grew up & which he hasn't been to in over forty years
after receiving a tarot card in the post, only one person could have
sent him the tarot card but she has been dead for forty four years.
Tomas heads to the house which has so many bad memories for him, the
house of a woman named Moira ( Natalia Millán) who he had a sexual
relationship with when he was sixteen. Tomas remembers how the elders
including his mum & dad (Victoria Mora & Walter Prieto) thought Moira
was a witch & prostitute who both brought bad luck & shame on the
village. Superstitions that would lead to tragedy & events that have
haunted Tomas his whole life & events that might literally still haunt
him as unexplained things begin to happen...
Known as Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre to English speaking audiences this made-for-Spanish telly ghost film was co-edited, co-written & directed by Mateo Gil & the thing that struck me the most while watching Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira is how much it reminded me of all those Japanese ghost films such as The Ring (1998) & Ju-On: The Grudge (2003) that are so popular at the moment, not the specific story in particular but how it feels, how it builds up, some of the spooky events that take place & it's twist ending which I thought was awful. It's ironic that it has the Films to Keep You Awake prefix since the script by Gil & Igor Lagarreta is actually very slow going for the majority of the very short seventy five minute running time & is far more likely to send you to sleep, in fact with such a short running time I was expecting this to crack along at a decent pace but you really do need a high tolerance level to sit through this. For a horror film there's barely any horror in it, for the vast majority of Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira it feels like a melodramatic love story with the young Tomas & the older Moira having a secret relationship that everyone else in the village would disapprove of. Also I am not convinced by the superstitious locals, I mean the scenes set in the past were during the 60's given the film's time-line & I find it hard to believe an entire village would think someone was a witch during that period. The character's are alright, the dialogue is sparse but alright & it eventually tells a story but overall it didn't do much for me & then there's that terrible twist ending which makes zero sense & isn't even much of a twist, also what did Tomas' dead wife Greta have to do with it if anything?.
Director Gil does alright here, the film looks nice enough & the Spanish countryside & quaint village makes for a decent setting. Disappointingly Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira is extremely light on scares & horror, basically there isn't any. Ghost sightings are few & far between but they really do look like they have come straight out of any number of Japanese ghost film's. There's no gore either although there are a couple of mild sex scenes. Shot in Spanish the film is subtitled, rather annoyingly the Spanish actors speak quite quickly & therefore some of the subtitles don't stay on screen for that long & also annoyingly the subtitles are white & since a lot of the film is set in the bright sunshine of the Spanish countryside they can sometimes become lost & impossible to read.
Filmed in Madrid in Spain the film has good production values & is competent if unspectacular. Overall Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira looks fine but is rather unremarkable. The acting seems fine but since I don't speak Spanish & the cast are it's hard to give a definite answer.
Películas Para no Dormir: Regreso a Moira is a substandard Spanish attempt at copying the recent popular Japanese ghost film's but doesn't really succeed, it's dull & lethargic with a really awful ending which isn't much of a twist at all.
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