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  • It looks as if Spain ambitions to become the new Japan when it comes to unleashing atmospheric & convoluted ghost stories upon us horror-loving audiences. After the hugely successful "The Orphanage" last year (as well as "The Others", "The Devil's Backbone" and a couple of more earlier this decade), "The Beckoning" is already another brand new tale of the supernatural containing all the basic ingredients: ominous mansions with hidden attics, spontaneously appearing and disappearing ghosts, slowly revealing secrets from a distant past, suspicious links with the Catholic regime, characters who may or may not be dead for a long time already and completely unfathomable plot twists. I think we've all picked a rather skeptical attitude towards this type of films by now, as the vast majority of them unceasingly build up towards a climax that can't possibly live up to all the raised expectations. "The Beckoning" also somewhat falls into this category, but nonetheless it has a lot more merits than shortcomings. You certainly shouldn't expect a unique ghost-chiller that'll blow you out of your seat, but there's a fine balance between imaginative story lines and stylistic elements. In addition to the standard Haunted House fare, Elio Quiroga fascinatingly processed an authentic piece of obscure Spanish history into his screenplay. The No-Do's were a type of propaganda films, distributed by the Catholic Church during the reign of Franco, revolving on (manipulated?) miraculous occurrences and/or divine interventions. One specifically peculiar No-Do forms a very important part of the staring point of this film. The old No-Do reports about a Catholic orphanage were the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared and cured the ill. Several decades later, the large mansion is abandoned and the Catholic Church decides to rent it out. Pedro and his wife Francesca, who just gave birth to their second child, are very interested in the place and move in. Francesca struggles with a postnatal depression and is extremely sensitive to the gradually growing more mysterious occurrences in the house. She begins to have nightmarish visions, receive supernatural visits and discover hidden chambers that all indicating tragic and sinister events took place in the house rather than miracles. There are several more sub plots and additional story elements I could at, but they aren't all equally relevant and only raise unnecessary confusion. The scenes dealing with the mysterious No-Do movies are undoubtedly the best, but admittedly several of the spook-out sequences are admirably staged and moderately unsettling. There are, for example, rooms full of decayed old play dolls, creepy old nursery tunes and haunting images of deceased children. Nothing in this film qualifies as truly shocking and/or original, but I'm already very glad "The Beckoning" is never boring and overly sentimental. The conclusion is very satisfying, for once, albeit fairly predictable. Stylishly directed by Elio Quiroga, who previously made the oddly compelling and eccentric Sci-Fi/horror hybrid "The Cold Hour". Fans of European horror will also recognize leading lady Ana Torrent, as she starred in the Spanish 90's classic "Thesis".
  • Scarecrow-8826 October 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    In a renovated house, once a Catholic school for girls who claimed to see the Virgin Mary and perform miracles, is now occupied by a couple, their daughter, and newborn. The sick would come to be healed, plastic hands, feet, and other body parts would be hung by string from the ceiling and the children would attempt to perform miracles for the people, but instead of being healed, their conditions worsened. It was believed that an evil elemental lives in that building and caused the harm inflicted on those hoping for a cure for their ailments. A Spanish news reel made in the 40s reveals that a prostitute may've been blessed with the power to perform miracles, two priests assigned to possibly grant her a sainthood, unable to do so due to her reputation, the girl later committing suicide, bleeding from her stigmata days after death. There's this "third supposition" that can only be defeated by way of a willing martyr. The question remains..what happened to those who once lived in the school and the man who filmed footage of the girls and the occurrences wrought through them by the elemental. Ana Torrent is Francesca, after ten years, still mourns inside for the daughter she lost shortly upon giving birth to her. She "baptizes and names" babies which die the same way as hers did, much to the chagrin of fellow colleague, Jean(Rocío Muñoz)who believes Francesca needs to take time away from the profession of pediatrics. Pedro(Francisco Boira)is Francesca's husband who begins to worry about her when she starts sleeping near the baby, hearing voices, and seeing images which frighten her. There's a long time coma patient, Blanca(María Alfonsa Rosso), who awakens after 60 years, looking for her husband who was filming at Francesca's new abode before she went into her deep sleep. The Spanish news reporting series under the Franco regime kept the secret behind the mystery of what went on inside Francesca's house hidden from the outside world and perhaps, once found, the missing reel could contain footage of importance as to what haunts the attic. Héctor Colomé is Miguel, a priest who defrauds supposed miracles and other proclaimed acts of spiritual power, finding that debunking what Francesca experiences is impossible. Miguel, wanting to make amends for his part in the prostitute-suicide debacle, will forward ahead, hoping to encounter that great mystery which awaits discovery somewhere within the walls of Francesca's home.

    I must say that while the spooks of a mostly computer generated variety are standard and rather average, the developing story(and how the director uses history and news reels as story-telling devices)I found fascinating and compelling. Director Elio Quiroga casts a disparaging eye towards the Catholic church and their heinous part in a tragic revelation at the end, shot on "old film", buried behind a hidden wall for a reason. Miguel is an angelic priest, though, whose involvement in the ongoing story gives credence to Francesca, perfectly sane yet her husband and a friend question her mental state. Another neat plot twist(although, I've seen this twist used before in psychological tales where the protagonist's sense of reality and fantasy is skewed)concerns Rosa, Francesca's daughter. There's a reason why Miguel reacts strongly when he sees Rosa for the first time. While I imagine many will see influences of THE EXORCIST and other spiritual supernatural thrillers, I think THE HAUNTING has its original moments, mainly in the central mystery and how this is seen to its conclusion. Heavy dependence on visual effects kind of lessened its impact, but THE HAUNTING does feature some strong performances which buoy the film when it doesn't quite work.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie has got so weak grades and been voted on by so few people here on IMDb, that I did not expect much from it. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised, because this is a VERY good horror movie! Right up at the top with "The Orphanage", "The Changeling", and "The Others". Or _almost_ ... the reason I give it 9 instead of 10 is the fact that, as many movies from other countries than the U.S. and Britain (including Sweden by the way), there is something in the pace, filming, and acting that is just _a little_ clumsy - a _little_ amateurish - compared to the "big" movie producing countries.

    The movie is very thrilling, with both very good special effects and a very good plot, which is unusual. As a Swede, used to the lukewarm and very rational Lutheran Swedish Church, I find the Catholic Church with it's belief in mysticism both repelling and appealing, and in this movie you get an insight in both the good and the bad effects of these (for us protestants) strange beliefs.

    As I have watched many horror movies lately, I was not shocked by what should have been one of the major thrills/twists: the fact that the couple's ten-year old daughter was in fact dead. Dead since BIRTH. I realized this early on, because of the fact that only the mother interacted with her, and that her room was never shown. But in the very end there is another twist, which came as a surprise for me too: the girl was in fact not the ghost of the dead daughter, but an evil apparition luring the mother into the dangerous rooms of the house. I really liked this double twist!
  • Spanish terror movie that explores the psychological disintegration of a possessed woman well played by Ana Torrent . It deals with Francesca (Ana Torrent) , a hard-working as well as stressed pediatrician who is dedicated to both motherhood and her job , married to another physician called Pedro (Francisco Boira) . Following the birth of a new child and the advice of a councillor (Rocio Muñoz) , the couple rent an isolated house from the Catholic Church . She attempts to retrieve peace and serenity in a new home away from the city , but in this recent house happens strange events and things go wrong . As they move an impressive and solitary mansion that results to be haunted by ghosts . As the the attic and the basement are locked and they hide awful secrets . She soon starts to communicate with invisible dark forces and it is from both these places that Francesca puts on the edge close to insanity . Meanwhile , a major priest (Francisco Casares) assigns the case to a miracle investigator , Father Miguel (Héctor Colomé) . The film finishes with a Philip K. Dick quote: "If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others".

    Melodramatic ghost story about a woman , Francesca : Ana Torrent , with tortured soul who brings her family into a ghostly mansion where is starting to hear and see fantastic , creepy things . It gives a terrifying and disturbingly adult view of fears in which posses an element of melancholy with a upsetting woman who seems to drift dangerously close to madness . Influenced by Bayona's The orphanage , Polanski's Repulsion , Amenabar's The others and Del Toro's Pan labyrinth , it has a forensic eye for the eerie atmosphere which wreathes itself around dolls , everyday objects and domestic settings . Interesting screenplay by Elio Quiroga himself , revolving the mental disintegration of a woman overwhelmed by weird figures and ghostly shadows start tormenting her , as the protagonist receiving visits by night that are slowly driving her insanity . Director Elio Quiroga wanted the film to hark back in tone to 40s and 50s NODO trailers that turn out to be the best parts of the film . There are lots of shots with visual effects in them feature across this picture . Good performance from main protagonist Ana Torrent as Francesca , a woman who suffers from postpartum depression and takes on terrible ghosts . Torrent has developed a long career from little girl as ¨Espiritu De La Colmena¨ or ¨El Nido¨ to adult woman as ¨Thesis¨ , ¨Yoyes¨, and international films as ¨The other Boleyn girl¨, ¨The Tulse Luper suitcases¨ , among others. Support cast is pretty good , such as Héctor Colomé as a miracle investigator , Maria Alfonsa Rosso as a rare old woman and Rocio Muñoz as psychiatrist Jean .

    Colorful and evocative cinematography by Juan Carlos Gómez , being skillfully cameraman , shot on location in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands and Torrelodones, Madrid . Thrilling as well sensitive musical score by Alfons Conde . The motion picture was well directed by Elio Quiroga . Here he offers an emotionally overwrought story about ghosts in unashamedly melodramatic style . Although it failed at the box office opening for a film in its native Spain . Quiroga is a good writer and director , here displaying genuine chills , suspense , mystery and dark atmosphere and twisted finale . It resulted out to one of the most unusual Spanish thrilling movies of 2009 and certainly one of the most unsettling . Quiroga is a nice filmmaker , known for ¨Fotos¨ , ¨Nodo¨ and his most successful film , ¨La Hora Fria¨ ; he also directed shorts and documentary . This film NODO is dedicated to the memory of Joaquim Jordà (1935 - 2006), Spanish filmmaker. Rating : Better than average , worthwhile watching .
  • In 1947, three little girls in a Catholic boarding school claim that they had seen the Virgin Mary and are capable to heal the needy people. Fifty years later, the local Catholic Bishop that lives in the old house dies and the medical doctors Pedro (Francisco Boira) and his wife Francesca (Ana Torrent), who is depressed and under psychological treatment, rent the isolated house from the Catholic Church to raise their baby Pablo in the countryside. However, the attic and the basement are locked but the Church promises to recover and deliver the rooms later. Francesca is obsessed with the safety of Pablo, having nightmares during the night. She is also haunted by noises and apparitions and is in the edge close to insanity. Meanwhile, the psychiatrist Priest Miguel (Héctor Colomé) discharges the patient Blanca (Maria Alfonsa Rosso) that had slept for fifty years from a Catholic institution. When Blanca meets Francesca in the real estate, she gives the name of Priest Miguel to the physician. Francesca visits the priest and discloses a disturbing secret about the old house.

    In the period of General Franco's dictatorship, the news and documentaries NO-DO (Noticiarios y Documentales) was propaganda projected in the movie theaters before the movie. The film "NO-DO" is a messy ghost story with creepy moments, good special effects and performances that entwines many sub-plots in a confused screenplay. My vote is five.

    Title (Brazil): "Olhos do Mal" ("Evil Eyes")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Whenever I decide to watch a horror movie, I always take in consideration the fact that I will probably be disappointed. Thus, when I see a movie such as this one, I am grateful. I like the fact that the movie misleads you until a certain point. I like the fact that the movie treats with respect certain subjects related to faith and beliefs. I like the fact that though this movie brings back clichés and stories that maybe were already told, it always uses an original and renewed point of view. AND, it is frightening, it really is. The acting is superb, the scenery is fantastic, with landscapes Grey and disturbing. If you know a bit about recent Spanish history, you'll discover how this story could actually be based on true facts. And if you know the mountains around Madrid, you'll feel how this atmosphere suits the narration. I warmly recommend this movie, specially if you liked the last Spanish Armada of horror movies. This is, I believe, one of the best.
  • A couple move to a former school and call on the help of a priest when and old woman's warnings who has recently awoken from a coma become relevant.

    Also known as No-Do, The Haunting or The Beckoning it's a paint by numbers story but a creepy effective well made Spanish horror/thriller. Reminiscent of The Haunting (1963) with elements of Rec 2 and The Orphanage.

    The characters are well written and some of the performances are outstanding with Ana Torrent as Francesca, fantastic Héctor Colomé as Miguel and notable María Alfonsa Rosso as Blanca.

    Director/writer Elio Quiroga delivers some great visuals with excellent ghost effects that are complimented by the sound design and score. Again its perfectly acted with some genuine looking actors (Western casting agents may want to make note).

    It doesn't matter that you can guess the connections, it's an old style ghost story wonderfully shot that keeps you interested to the satisfying conclusion.
  • Halloween evening and I was on flick two of Fangoria's FrightFest of which "The Haunting" was one of eight movies. To be honest, I'm a bit of a subtitle snob as I'm a very visual person and love to get totally immersed in the sound and images of a movie and hate reading. And since my Spanish does not extended to understanding an entire movie, I went with the English 2.0 sound of which there is an odd hollow phasing I presume is not in the original mix so be forewarned if this is the audio you are accessing. Despite that this is a chilling movie with some very effective special FX and a moving score. The use of the "No-Do" short docu footage works in well with the storyline. Performances are steady throughout. Again, it's the visuals including some nice cinematography that's most effective on this film.
  • Moving into a new house, a young woman learns that her increasingly paranoid reactions and psychotic breakdowns are the results of the lingering ghosts left in the house by it's concealed history from the Spanish Civil War and tries to end the curse left by that tormented history.

    This one ended up being a surprisingly fun and decent Spanish haunted house film. One of the more enjoyable features found here is the rather fun and spirited storyline which manages to maintain it's sense of fear and thrills throughout here. The multitracked story manages to include a rather fun amount of thrills here by readily engaging the multiple storylines including the connection to the Spanish Civil War in the continuous newsreel footage or home videos showing the different treatments that befell all the prisoners which comes through well enough here to give this one the kind of setup for later. That backstory sets this one's best aspect, as there are some rather impressive hauntings here which make for a rather fun time when it starts to let them go in the middle half and the visuals that accompany them are a lot of fun. From her dreams and hallucinations of the ghostly figures in her bedroom taunting her by sleeping with her husband to the violent acts she believes she commits against her baby as well as the manifestations of the ghosts around the house, this one generates the appropriate atmosphere with plenty of creepy scenes. The other scenes, featuring the sounds over the baby monitors which ties the backstory into the ghostly actions plaguing the house, her hallucinations of the ghosts appearing as her children or the sounds of creaking floorboards or rattling doors, are far more traditional haunted house style shocks. These also help give this one a far more chilling atmosphere which helps to even out the religious imagery that gets incorporated into a rousing finale that evokes the best of the old-school burning-down-the-house styles so often employed before. This makes for a great ending and raises this one pretty high, although there are a few problems. One of the main issues is that it's too complicated for this type of haunted house story to make sense. This is a case of having way too much going on for its good, as there are three different backstories from the Civil War in the house, her backstory of the family troubles and the later talk involving the Church's actions here all being played out trying to piece together what's going on, and it eventually gets frustrating trying to keep everything straight. What also holds it back is that it has some rather troublesome CGI that looks bad here when it's being used despite not having a lot of opportunities, and although the film doesn't exploit it this stands out for the use overall. That said, it's not as bad as the other issues here.

    Rated R: Language, Violence and Nudity.
  • I'm usually a fan of Spanish ghost stories but THE HAUNTING feels too familiar and derivative to truly be a success. It's another story about a married couple subjected to mysterious visions and hauntings in their own home. Unsurprisingly the Catholic church is somehow involved. The central character is the mother of a newborn baby whose post-natal depression seems to be having an effect on her mind. The film as a whole is very similar to THE BABY'S ROOM, a prior - and superior - Spanish effort released under a 'Films to Keep You Awake' banner.

    As with many haunted house productions, THE HAUNTING is too dark and too slow for my tastes. The ghostly scenes make typical use of CGI effects and feel so ordinary that I wasn't scared once. The low key acting works in this film's favour and helps to bring some much-needed realism to the proceedings, but the events that play out are nothing special and I was often bored by the whole thing despite elements of interest in the back story.
  • Lately, Spanish cinema has toasted us with some interesting horror and thriller films. "The Orphanage" is an example that I can refer to and that I remember right now. So I was expecting more from this movie. The plot consists of the story of a family going to live in the countryside, to a house where a Catholic bishop lived. Of course, that house has a lot of obscure secrets, but this is quite evident from the start. Incidentally, the whole film is quite predictable and this spoils the potential pleasure of watching it. But the biggest problem is the amount of subplots that mix like the threads of a spaghetti, quickly causing such a confusion in the public's head that it simply loses interest in the story.

    This film didn't create a continuous and growing feel of tension or discomfort, basing itself on scares to make "American style" horror. As for the actors, I don't know any of them, I'm not the greatest connoisseur of the actors in the country next to mine, but I felt that none of them stood out for the positive, even though everyone has done his work reasonably enough. Special effects and CGI seemed to me solid and decent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Troubled young pediatrician Francesca (a fine and appealing performance by Ana Torrent) is traumatized after losing a child to crib death. When Francesca and her family move to a new house in the country, Francesca begins to suspect that the remote abode might be harboring a few terrible secrets that push her to the brink of madness. Writer/director Elio Quiroga relates the compelling story at a gradual stately pace, maintains a grimly serious tone throughout, grounds the fantastic premise in a believable mundane reality, and ably crafts a spooky atmosphere that becomes more eerie and unsettling as the narrative unfolds towards a genuinely harrowing conclusion. Moreover, Quiroga deserves additional plaudits for the inclusion of a bold conspiracy subplot concerning the Catholic church suppressing the truth about past heinous misdeeds in order not to ruin their reputation with the public at large. The excellent acting by the top-rate cast rates as another substantial asset: Torrent makes for a strong and sympathetic protagonist, with bang-up support from Francisco Boira as Francesca's caring and concerned husband Pedro, Hector Colome as selfless and helpful psychiatrist priest Miguel, Maria Alfonsa Rosso as tormented old amnesia victim Blanca, and Miriam Cepa as Francisca's sweet daughter Rosa. Juan Carlos Gomez's gloomy cinematography gives the picture an appropriately grayish autumnal look. Alfons Conde's spare shivery score hits the spine-tingling spot. Only the dodgy CGI effects leave something to be desired. A worthwhile fright film.