Sometimes when you have two reviewers in the family, you have to save your better half from a movie they simply don’t understand. I found myself in that situation when my wife took on the daunting task of trying to review The Haunting from the Fright Fest collection. She couldn’t put together the various religion themes into a compelling review, so I decided to help her out since she’s done the same for me many times over. So did I understand the goings on? Well kinda.
In the first scene, we are treated to news from No-Do, people who bring us the truth in Spanish government and holy news. The movie moves to Blanca (played by Maria Alfonsa Rosso )who has woken up after 60 years of sleeping. She is the last patient of her kind and is left to fend for herself since the hospital is closing down. Miguel (played by Hector Colome)asks her if she has anywhere to go and Blanca nods her head. She confuses the priest with the late Bishop who apparently passed away a month ago.
Then we get some black and white film of a boy being attacked by an apparition and then it quickly switches back to present day where a baby suddenly dies in a hospital. We see Francesca (played by Ana Torrent) giving a baptism to the deceased child. She mentions to her co-worker Jean, (played by Rocio Munoz) that she is going to move out to the country and be with her newborn child who is now four months old. Jean doesn’t seem to like that idea and thinks the board will disapprove.
As it turns out, the house that Francesca and her husband, Pedro (played by Francisco Boira) are renting out is the old Bishop’s home. They get settled in and we check back in with Blanca who has found her old home and is looking for somebody named Zenil. She gets happy once she found a certain book which she holds close to her as we end scene. Miguel is talking to a fellow priest about what went on with a certain prostitute who apparently performed miracles. In the end, she took her own life. But we all know that whores don’t perform miracles the other priest mentions.
Back at the bishop’s house, Fran and Pedro are doing decorations and settling in nicely. We briefly see Blanca but she disappears before anybody notices she is there. The family settles in and go to sleep for the night. But not all is still. There are crashes and other things that go bump in the night. Fran wakes up to investigate. She ends up sleeping with her newborn to finish off the night. The husband (who apparently sleeps like a bear) heard nothing and is disturbed by his wife sleeping next to the crib.
For you see, Fran lost her daughter ten years ago due to crib death and she’s never dealt with her postpartum correctly. At least according to Pedro and Jean. The following night, it happens again as the house makes a ruckus and she checks on the baby once more. (*insert scary things here*) Morning comes and Fran is talking to her daughter, Rosa (played by Miriam Cepa). Apparently, the child is seeing dirty little kids that are evil in her sleep and Francesca tells her that those dreams will pass and the kids don’t exist.
However, these apparitions keep appearing and there is more of a story here to tell. Pedro and Jean become worried that Fran has gone mad and move the newborn out of the house while the mother gets some down time. Francesca begs Jean to take blood samples from the wall where the apparition wrote in Spanish, “The Lady is Bad”. What truly went on in this house? Did it involve the three dirty kids or has the mother simply went mad? The mystery unfolds as the priest, Miguel gets involved and Blanca also plays a part in this cruel tale of religion and miracles.
I was bit worried at first when my wife mentioned that she was confused by the movie. When it comes to horror movies, she can figure out things like who is the killer or the twist, many minutes before I do. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. The fact is the movie isn’t bad. It does have some complicated religious themes but the cast is very respectable. Ana Torrent turns in a fine job as a delusional mother suffering from postpartum who plays a very fine line from madness to a very concerned parent. Hector Colome also turns in a good performance as a priest uncovering the mystery of what is going on at the bishop’s home.
I also like the use of No-Do news which was actually a real news source that existed from 1943 to 1981 and was controlled by Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco until his death in 1975. That gave a way from the movie to time into possible real life events which was a way to draw you into the movie until the final chapter. However, I felt the ending of the film while a little predictable was a little too hokey and that it should have ended up more mysterious than anything else. It was an ending for sure, but most horror fans would have wanted something else.
Unfortunately, as with all of the Frightfest movies, we as reviewers only received a screener copy of the aforementioned movie. It was dubbed in English and poorly. A Spanish language copy with English subtitles would have most likely made the movie a little more scary and draw us even closer into the story. The movie is certainly decent and a good watch for your Netflix queue as long as the disc provided contains the Spanish audio w/ subs. But also be prepared to put on your thinking caps and do a little bit of research if you don’t understand all of the religious themes. Recommended, just be cautious.