23 November 2018 | spookyrat1
Past Sins Unforgotten!
Childish Games, frequently promoted as a horror film, patterns itself much closer to Hitchcock thrillers such as Vertigo and Vertigo imitations such as Brian De Palma's Obsession. It's a simmering slow-burn of a movie, which unfortunately boils over into a climax, that just doesn't sit well contextually, with much of the prior narrative.
Writer/Producer/Director Antonio Chavarrías crafts a compelling, compact story around teachers Daniel and Laura, who clearly have a very close relationship in spite of Laura experiencing gynaecological issues causing pregnancy to be seemingly impossible and Daniel burying a traumatic incident from his childhood into his sub-conscious. The onscreen chemistry between actors Juan Diego Botto and Barbarie Lennie is so believably attractive and close, that it really does cast some doubt on later occurring events, that are precipitated by them assuming temporary guardianship of a young girl. Julia is the daughter of Mario, a childhood friend of Daniel's, who has suicided in what is most definitely the film's most confronting scene.
Amongst several issues arising mid-film, it's impossible to believe that Laura would not strongly deny the suggestion made to her, that she suddenly cares more for Julia, than her long-term partner Daniel. Also difficult to accept despite him having a few nightmares and unwanted flashbacks, is Daniel's overnight descent into Shining - like madness. And what's with the overtly contrived, repetitive indecisions between the couple over the extension of their guardianship?
Nevertheless, Childish Games is a finely crafted piece, with admirable acting from the leads and I liked the way director Chavarrías avoided the temptation to insert periodic cheap thrills. But the denouement is quite unsatisfying and almost feels like that, created for another film. It needed to be more subtle and dare I say it, more intelligently handled.
Still some will no doubt find this Spanish offering worth watching.