RING versus Spanish Horror Films

vs +

Now I know Heroic-Cinema covers Asian films but I hope you will grant me the liberty to digress a little about two bone-chilling Spanish films: The Devil’s Backbone (“El Espinaza Del Diablo”) and Thesis (“Tesis”)

Endless similarities could be drawn between these two and Hideo Nakata’s Ring – it did make me wonder if the directors have been secretly talking. I shudder to think if they ever got together! (but the sadistic part of me is saying “yes, please!”)

But making people shudder in the cinema seems to pump in the veins of the two Spanish directors here. Guillermo del Toro (Devil’s Backbone) previously spooked us with Cronos and Mimic and Alejandro Amenabar (Thesis) is famous for directing The Others and the original Spanish version of Vanilla Sky.

The Devil’s Backbone by del Toro takes us into a boys’ orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. In the orphanage, something else of the supernatural kind is quietly raging and we see it all through the eyes of Carlos, our young protagonist in this creepy little flick. Aside from being dumped, he has to cope with living in an orphanage out in the middle of a desert and being picked on by the resident bully, Jaime. To top it all off the poor boy can’t even get a good night’s sleep because “the one who sighs” keeps waking him up…

The opening titles itself is a work of art and it gets better. Infused with creepy atmospherics (dim hallways, dark chambers and eerie sound effects) that is up there with Ring, it ups the ante with some fantastic but chilling effects. You will swept into along the orphanage’s dark secrets and the underbelly of the characters, each with their own secret.

Thesis on the other hand has a few more topical similarities with Ring, there’s a video tape that kills in this one too although in this case it’s not an urban myth but a snuff movie. Angela is doing her thesis on audio visual violence when she finds a snuff video – and let me tell you, what is on this video is just as frightening as the famous well footage in Ring.

Whilst Ring was based on the urban myth, the horror and suspense in Thesis feels a lot closer because of the extremely sinister subject matter and us knowing full well there will be some sort of body count that will be depicted in characteristically UGLY stomach churning style.

Thesis manages to be thought provoking, raising many questions (along with your hair), it has a dig at itself and the issue of violence but it succeeds best of all as a very well made psychological thriller.

The Devil’s Backbone and Thesis are showing in May 2002 in Melbourne and Sydney as part of the Spanish Film Festival. Go get freaked out if you like suspense/horror (you have been warned) but the festival has other excellent films too.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.