The film looks good and appears urgent, but you are left wanting to engage with it more. One only hopes that the subsequent two installments of this Spanish serial killer trilogy are better structured than this.
2.5 out of 4 stars
“It looks like a cake”
The film begins quite poetically. We see the beautiful mountains near the small town of Elizondo. As our eyes soothe into the gentle terrain, suddenly there is a pair of bare legs. Soon enough, we see a naked body of a woman lying beside the wild running stream, as if one with nature. From the onset, it is clear that this is murder. Her body is lying in a very artificial way. Moreover, there is a cake over her pubic area. She has been positioned there and arranged like this after her death. The entire set-up puts focus on the killer. He or she seems to possess a motivational value that is higher and spiritual. Investigating officer Amaia Salazar (Marta Etura) is alarmed. There might be more killings soon.
Right after this development, we realize that this is actually the second murder. This information is given to us rather hastily. Sadly, this hasty quality is going to be with us for the rest of the film. While Amaia is in town to work, we come to know that she had left her family to join the FBI. Consequently, her eldest sister Flora (Elvira Mínguez), who has been taking care of their ill mom all by herself, is very angry with her. Flora keeps taunting and harassing Amaia in ways that appear crueler than they should be. In fact, the entire town seems to be angry with her for leaving. But what they do not seem to know is that Amaia’s mother behaved inhumanly with her.
Those unanswered distracting questions
In fact, had it not been for the father, Amaia would have been dead as a child. Why her mother behaved like this with her is a mystery yet to be solved. Why she did not behave the same way with Amaia’s two sisters is yet another mystery unresolved. Now, the makers are very clear with this script that it is the first part of a trilogy. Therefore, there should be more questions than the film will answer, which will hook the subsequent works. However, the problem is not that. The problem is that these larger developments keep coming before us one after the other.
There is something in the forest, which Amaia’s aunt had seen. The creature, appearing like a man with long hair, will supposedly play a vital role in the coming films. But here, all of these other developments take us away from what we had been given in the beginning. There’s also another murder which apparently isn’t connected with the serial killer. By this time, we are too distracted to actually care whether they will be able to find the killer (which of course, they will). When we finally get to know who it is, we do not feel the gasp that the makers might have expected. The reason being, we were never really close to that character to have felt that pang of betrayal. In fact, we do not really care about Amaia as well. Between her childhood and the other events going around, the now Amaia is given very little space and isn’t interesting.
All these issues considerably erode the film’s edge. It looks good and appears urgent, but you are left wanting to engage with it more. I only hope that the remaining two installments of this Spanish serial killer trilogy are better structured than this.
Credits (from IMDb):
Fernando González Molina
Luiso Berdejo … (writer)
Dolores Redondo … (novel)
Flavio Martínez Labiano