Spanish

Dagon

Dagon-del-marBy request, Dagon a Spanish horror film released in 2001. Film’s never really seem to do H.P. Lovecraft justice, with his work often being heavily altered to such a state it’s barely recognizable. That’s not the case with Dagon, based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story The Shadow Over Innsmouth, which really nails the actual terror behind his work. Not to say that this film’s perfect, because it is most assuredly not that. It just manages to adapt Lovecraft in such a way that it doesn’t deviate from makes Lovecraft’s horror work so well. Lovecraft’s horror comes from the underpinnings of reality and our place in it being torn away, showing that not only are we small. That there are beings, powerful on a scale that we can’t even fathom and that our only hope is that we are too small and inconsequential to be worth noticing. Something hard to keep true to while changing mediums. But damn did Stuart Gordon do a great job at it.

Dagon with its main character Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden) dreaming of depths and beautiful mermaid with mouth razor-sharp teeth. He wakes up in the arms of his incredibly sexy girlfriend Barbra (Raquel Meroño), on a boat near the coastal town of Imboca, because you know he’s just filthy rich for reasons that is in no way relevant to the plot. With them on the boat are their two friends Vikki (Birgit Bofarull) and Howard (Brendan Price). Suddenly the group hears prayers coming from the two followed by a storm coming seemingly out of nowhere and ramming the boat against a reef. Vikki becomes pinned below deck by the wreck trapping her. Paul and Barbra take the life boat to shore in order to get help. When they reach the town it’s seemingly deserted, the pair seek aid in the old church. They think they found the answer in the form of the town priest (Ferran Lahoz). Meanwhile on the boat, something comes up from the deep. Having been raised by Vikki’s blood in the water and takes them. The priest sends Paul to the boat with a pair of fishermen and sends Barbra to the hotel to call for help. When Paul arrives at the boat he finds it empty and returns to the town believing the pair dead at sea. At the hotel Barbra is seized by the hotel manager and the priest. When Paul arrives back in town, he instructed to go the hotel and wait for Barbra, who the priest claims went to a nearby town for aid. At the hotel Paul has another nightmare featuring the same woman. When he awakens the hotel is surrounded by the townsfolk, all whom seem deformed and monstrous. The town folk attack Paul, who is forced to flee the hotel. He takes refuge inside an old tannery, but is still pursed by townsfolk. He finds Howard’s flayed skin hanging in the tannery along with the skins of many other people. Paul sets fire to the tannery and escapes in the confusion, when he comes across  Ezequiel (Francisco Rabal), the town drunk. After a rocky get to know you phase, Exequiel tells Paul of the towns dark past. How during lean times a dark outsider came and brought with him the worship of Dagon. With his praises the fish returned and gold washed up from the depths of the sea, such a bounty that made the town very wealthy. But Dagon’s good graces aren’t free, he demands sacrifice and transforms his believers into fish monsters. Ezequiel takes Paul to the mayors house where the only car is. But Paul accidentally alerts the townspeople to his presence, forcing him to flee into the manor. Inside he comes across Uxía Cambarro (Macarena Gomez) the beautiful monster from his dreams. She begs him to stay, but he flees when he discovers she has gills and tentacles for legs. Paul escapes in a the car, but after ramming through a group of villagers. The townspeople captures him and throw him into a barn with their other prisoners, Barbra, Vikki and Ezequiel. Together they hatch a plan to escape…

Above all things, let it be known that Dagon nails the atmosphere perfectly. The whole town feels other worldly and wet with a sickening glow. The constant rainfall, combined with shambling but savage horde of fish men makes for a very unsettling and disturbing ambiance. The best part is the music and sound ambiance only add to this sense of heightened reality. A lot of work had to go into the design of this and the work really shows through.

The acting, while a bit cheesy and over the top at times was really great. The characters have tons of character and memorability, and that’s really due to the great performances. Sure, maybe not Oscar caliber, but they are still fun, memorable, quirky and at times, terrifying.

That said, I do have my gripes. First this film feels like one long chase scene and sure that can be great. But, after a while it did begin to wear thin and started to feel a bit tedious. Which is not something I want my entertainment to feel like. Secondly is that they show Dagon and I feel that actually hurt the film. Dagon didn’t seem that scary. You know, live up to the hype. This is mainly because of terrible CGI that feels glaringly out-of-place.

Final thoughts, this film is good. Like crazy good. Like you should go watch this good. While it’s not perfect it’s still great and was more than worth the time invested in watching it. It’s a well done horror film, that stayed true to its roots. So if you ever find yourself in the position to give it a watch, you should. I don’t think that you’ll regret it. 9/10

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The Others

others_ver1_xlgI remember watching this film for the first time back in 2001 when it was released and having not watched it in over a decade, I feel I can say that this film is still solid. The Others holds up so well due to the film relying on storytelling, atmosphere and sense of impending doom to create its tension. The Others is one of the rare big budget, well cast horror films that seem to pop up every couple of years and I love it when they do. I feel horror often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to Hollywood.

The Others follows Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) along with her two children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). Grace is a devout Catholic and does what she can to impress her beliefs onto her children. Both children suffer from an unknown illness that is characterized by extreme photosensitivity, causing them to have intensely structured lives to avoid exposing the children to sunlight. Something that could easily be fatal for the pair. One day a group three new servants, Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), Mr. Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and mute Lydia (Elaine Cassidy). The arrival of these new servants coincides with a number of strange occurrences around the house, doors opening by themselves as well as the curtains. Anne claims to see a boy Victor in her room, who tells her that the house is there’s and they have to leave. The strange occurrences continue, causing Grace to become more convinced that they’re not alone in the house. After a thorough search of the house and finding nothing, she decides to brave the thick fog that has surrounded the house since the film’s beginning to get the aid of a local priest to bless the home. The servants watch her leave while burring tombstones under a pile of leaves. Out in the fog Grace becomes lost and while stumbling through the fog comes across her husband, Charles (Christopher Eccleston), who she was lost while he was away fighting in the war and was thought dead. The two reconnect briefly before he claims he must leave again, for the front. When speaking with her daughter Grace sees her as an old woman and attacks her, only to realize in horror she had attacked her daughter. Later the curtains go missing and Grace throws out the servants. While tossing the house in a desperate search for the curtains, she finds a photo of the servants dead. Meanwhile Anne and Nicolas sneak out of the house, it now being night, to go look for their father and come across the servants tombstones. The servants appear and the two children flee back the house and their mother. She takes the children inside quickly and locks the servants outside. Mrs. Mills reveals that she and the other servants died fifty years ago from tuberculosis and that now Grace most now go face “Them”, the “Intruders”….

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I love this movie. Adore, admire, appreciate even, but not love and it’s not the fault of the film really. It’s a beautiful film, that’s simply a pleasure to look at. Javier Aguirresrobe knocked it out of the park in the cinematography department.

Though great cinematography does wonders, it still meaningless if the film isn’t equally well written. The Others is well written, with a slow, steady beat that just keeps building, as any good thriller should. Alejandro Amenabar did an incredible job as the writer, director, and with the musical score. Which I do have a little problem with and I’m not sure if it’s just me. But when I ever I thought back on this film I would remember a few things, Nicole Kidman being fantastic, the films twist ending, and that they talked so quiet and the music was always so loud. Something that was once again a problem. The music always seemed to drown out the rest of the film.

Final thoughts, the music being way too loud is my only real complaint. It’s just one of those films that you have to watch with a remote in your hand. I will also admit that the films pacing might be a little slow for some people. But, those people probably aren’t into ghost movies as they tend, in my experience, to be a bit on the slow side. Like westerns and unfortunately the twist ending isn’t that big of a twist and raises more questions for me than it settles. Still, this film is amazing and I feel it’s a must watch if you’re a fan of ghost films and/or Nicole Kidman. 9/10