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In Moscow, the priest Owen hires a team to guide him in the underworld to find his friend Sergei that is missing while researching the legend about the existence of demons and an entrance to hell beneath the city.
Marta settles into his new apartment with his partner. But that night is bound to be alone. The building is newly built and have barely begun to change the first neighbors. All is silent, empty - until someone knocks the door violently.
In the 1600s, long before the invention of photography, a scientist named Girolamo Fumagalli was obsessed with the idea of reproducing images. He discovered that by killing a victim and removing the victim's eyeballs, it was possible to reproduce on paper the last image imprinted on that person's retinas. He named this technique 'thanatography'. Today, the same kind of gruesome ritual and abominable crime recurs within the walls of an international school of cinema. Written by
I'm giving this movie 5 out of 10 stars because there are a lot of very good things about it, even though the sum of it is absolutely terrible as an exercise of narrative. Ie: the story is very shabbily told, it is full of holes and ellipses, cheesy visual effects and silly scares, to name but a few big faults. It is, in fact, quite boring, and has near zero suspense. A lot of the acting is mediocre, and the directing work is full of errors typical for a first-timer (behind all of which, we can see very promising manners).
The germinal talent is one of the good points of the movie. There are more: for example, the leit motiv is very original, and would make for a *terrific* horror movie, should the script be rewritten and more put-together, and the movie remade (Hollywood could pull a very entertaining and appealing horror movie from this -good movies have been made with a much, much poorer starting material). The settings are also very spooky and well-chosen, and a great point was, in my opinion, the surreal quality introduced by the distortion of an early twentieth-century style, lighting, and technology in a twenty-first-century story and setting (for example, not once do we see a computer, a cell phone -or a phone, for that matter- or a digital device, or traces that such technology is even known to the characters in this microcosm). This creates a very disturbing yet very attractive effect. The surrealism is enhanced by other implausibilities that ask for sustained suspension of disbelief, but create, in exchange, a very appropriate atmosphere, akin to the German Expressionism -paid homage to by the authors in the names of the school that the movie is set in, or in those of some characters'-, or the English Neo-Gothic.
The acting is also quite acceptable, in general -one thing that hurts the movie in this department is, I believe, the fact that it was shot in English, which was not the first language for many of the leading actors (Alberto Amarilla, Alex Angulo and Leticia Dolera are all Spanish), and it must have affected their acting. However, they all do a nice job and you can tell they really try to bring depth to their characters. In my opinion, Leticia Dolera succeeded at it especially.
I will admit that the first time I watched this movie, I absolutely hated it. And although it isn't a favorite of mine now, or even a movie I want to keep watching, I am able to appreciate the many positive sides of it.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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