Directed By: Juan Antonio Bayona
Written By: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep
Running Time: 105 minutes
Rated R for some disturbing content
4.5 out of 5 stars
Director Juan Antonio Bayona instinctively knows how to scare you. Where other directors yell “BOO!” and throw red Karo syrup in your face, effectively scaring only the hyper teenage valley girls in attendance, Bayona knows that real terror lies in the anticipation of the scare, not in the scare itself. He shines a flashlight into a darkened cave and you see…nothing. A rasping door is opened to show you…no one. A midnight séance reveals…zero apparitions. Where lesser directors would take advantage of these scenes to try and jump you like a crippled mugger in a parking garage, Bayona builds the tension slowly with a sure hand, until you think you’re simply watching a creepy drama rather than a full-fledged horror film. And then like a twisted magician, when he has your attention fixed firmly on his right hand, he gut-punches you with his left. My wife, who not only detests horror films but reserves a special circle of hell for ones that involve children, had chosen to go to sleep next to me on the couch rather than partake of the movie. At one point I jumped so high that I jerked her awake, and I do not scare easily. Although the jump scares are few and far between, when Bayona unleashes them he does so with a vengeance.
Evan Derrick loves movies, loves talking about movies, and even makes them from time to time. In the rare moment when movies aren’t consuming his grey matter, he enjoys eating grilled cheese sandwiches, playing with his baby daughter, and pretending to be the senior editor for MovieZeal.com. (Edit Note: The more he writes, the more Tulsa Today editors are convinced, Evan Derrick is the best film critic in the State of Oklahoma and far better than those that appear in daily, weekly, or monthly print rags in the region. Use the Tulsa Today search feature to read previous reviews by this author.)