7 September 2009 | Coventry
Too Much Television WILL Kill You!
Not all that long ago, I watched a couple of episodes in a Spanish TV- movie series called "Six Films to keep you awake". The series was an initiative of the legendary Spanish horror director Narcisco Ibáñez Serrador ("Who Can Kill a Child", "The House that Screamed") and I was particularly supportive because he managed to convince multiple acclaimed Spanish filmmakers to direct an episode as well, like Alex De La Iglesia, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. I considered the initiative to be something like the Spanish response to "Masters of Horror", but now I found out that the original idea of "Stories to keep you awake" dates back to the early sixties already, when it was a relatively unsuccessful TV-series. There also were a handful of short movies released, including this "El Televisor" about an ordinary hard-working family man who gradually becomes dangerously obsessed and even downright paranoid from watching TV. Enrique is a mundane bank employee in Madrid who always put the happiness and well-being of his beloved wife and two kids before everything else. He always dreamed of owning a television, a color one, but delayed the purchase in favor of other things. When Enrique finally saved enough money and buys a television, the lives of all family members slowly turn into a nightmare. Enrique glorifies the little box and refuses to leave the house anymore. He completely descends into madness when he becomes obsessed with the images of lively movie characters invading his living room through the screen. "El Televisor" is a very simplistic and unspectacular TV-movie, but Narcisco Ibáñez Serrador does a truly fantastic job building up an identifiable yet rather uncomfortable atmosphere. Enrique's metamorphosis from a model family man and naive employee into a mentally unbalanced media- geek is masterfully handled, and so are the interactions with his helpless wife and children. The movie abruptly ends with a sudden twist that is implausible and even a bit grotesque, but it's nevertheless shocking since you've grown to care for this struggling middle-class during the final years of Franco's reign. Narcisco Ibáñez Menta, the director's very own father, gives away a stellar performance as Enrique.