JANUARY 14, 2009
Finally! A film in this "horror" set that is legitimately a horror movie, not a drama (or in The Christmas Tale's case, a kid's movie) with some horror flavor. Baby's Room (Spanish: La Habitación Del Niño) is low on body count, but it delivers ghosts and genuine supernatural occurrences, so it evens out. It took 5 films, but Álex de la Iglesia has finally given us the first in the 6 Films To Keep You Awake that seems proud to be a horror movie. Kudos, sir.
A word of advice to folks who haven't watched it yet: Skip the first five minutes. It pretty much gives away what the main character will spend the entire film trying to figure out. I'm pretty sure you can skip to the beginning of Chapter 2 and be OK. Then, watch the opening scene at the end, which will reveal why the old lady is involved. I think it would make for a better viewing experience. Maybe have a nice glass of Thai Iced Tea too, that'll make it even better.
I love movies that have a guy buy a bunch of some random household object to help him solve a problem. In this its baby monitors; he buys like 20 of the damn things and uses them to help him 'catch' the ghost that's been haunting him and tearing apart his marriage. It's a cool idea - much better than having him use a traditional video camera and ending up with half of a 'found footage' movie. Plus it's got one of the best "video can see things we can't" implementations I've seen in ages - when he looks through the video image, he can see doors and then open them (I would have liked a shot of the real world, where he's actually just grasping at air, but it probably would have gotten confusing).
I also enjoyed the better than average character development. Usually these sort of "newborn baby = trouble" movies focus on the mother, but the dad (Javier Gutiérrez) is front and center here. We quickly learn that he's struggling with the 'trappings' of being married and having a newborn child (at one point, he's trying to seduce his wife and she suddenly begins talking about the baby's poop), but he's always sympathetic. At one point he hits on the girl who sells the baby monitors, which could have put him in the "this guy's a douche" category, but the idea is dropped as quickly as its introduced. Plus it helped throw me off - I started suspecting the supernatural stuff was just a manifestation of the guy's cold feet about being a family man or something, but it's something else entirely.
Also - the baby doesn't apparently have a name. Both parents refer to him as "the kid" throughout the entire movie. Then again this might just be a mistranslation on the subtitles - the brief making of has noticeably different text during some of the film clips.
If the movie has one real flaw, it's the length. Not that 75 minutes can be considered overlong, but 15 minutes could have been shaved and we would have the all time best Masters of Horror entry. As it stands, it gets a bit repetitive at times, and there are way too many scenes of him at work, which ultimately has no payoff; though we DO get to hear one of my all-time favorite non-jokes ("Why is a potato like a tomato?"*), so there's something.
I found the movie rather easy to figure out (thanks to the opening), hence the rather vague review - I want you guys to go in blind (and skip the opening!) and enjoy it for what it is: a low-key supernatural entry with enough decent twists and a terrific finale, without me spoiling everything.
What say you?
*They're both red. Except the potato.