1 July 2011 | Bloodwank
Bizarre, unsatisfying Argentine horror obscurity
Oh disappointment, oh rue. La casa de las siete tumbas works through at least half of its run time on curiously intense sloppy weirdness but then it takes the plunge. Suddenly things go from merely garbled to full on nonsensical and it just isn't as fun, in fact it rather bores. I was reminded of Inland Empire actually, probably one of the greatest examples of a film that abandons traditional narrative partway into the run time, but where that film had marvellous performances and alternately beautiful and unsettling imagery, this film gets ever decreasing returns from various combinations and riffs on what has gone before, seeding the mix with meagre character insight until the whole thing solidifies (up to a point) in a fairly predictable if somewhat touching climax. I'm a huge fan of cinema as a medium for exploring the fractured mind, the ways in which sound and image can trace the cracks, can show us reality break and fall away and I so wanted to get into this film, but boredom is just to much of a turn-off, not to mention the fact that the story at work before the film goes haywire is actually pretty interesting. Two lovely girls have grown up differently, one paranoid, reclusive and prone to strange reflection, one more carefree and outgoing. The former remains at home while the latter sets out on a trip with her boyfriend, but begins to have eerie premonitions when the happy couple are waylaid at a strange old house whose occupants may include a witch and possibly have a thing for murdering guests. I could happily have gone all the way with this, offbeat characters (the boyfriend doesn't really care about being locked in a room by strangers) and creepy scattershot scare tactics (Dolls! Dark horseman! Cat abuse!) but it was not to be. There is some interest in the Lynchian hodge podge of the films latter half, cannibalism, retarded girl acting like a pig, baffling dialogue etc., but the symbolism is too obscure to be especially effective and while there is a feel of the breakdown of reality it comes across more as writer and director pulling ideas out of a hat than a properly thought out explanation. It may be one of those that rewards repeated viewings but I'd have to really get into the mood to test out that idea and it appears that this one is hard to find on any decent quality release which hurts its replay value as well. Maybe it'll get a release on remastered DVD, Mondo Macabro or someone like that, and I'll have to rethink my thoughts but for now I can't recommend this one. Not really worth a look for anyone except serious geeks I'd say, but I guess if you have to see it you could still do worse.