JANUARY 21, 2009
In my review for one of the other "6 Films To Keep You Awake", I pointed out how each disc seemed to have a theme. Disc 1 was abortion, Disc 2 was children. Well, Disc 3 is “actual horror movies”. Also great ones. And while Baby’s Room had a few minor issues, the only problem I had with To Let (Spanish: Para Entrar A Vivir) is that it was too damn short (68 minutes!), but like Inside (78 minutes), rather than a 90 minute movie with slow parts, you get a relentlessly paced adrenaline burst without any worthless filler.
See, the movie starts off like a typical haunted house movie. Our working class couple needs a new place, but aren’t exactly rich. So they go look at this “amazing deal” apartment. So I’m thinking, OK, they take the place even though it’s not perfect, and then they hear noises and see things and blah blah”. And even as I was thinking that, all of a sudden, 10 minutes into the movie, the landlord begins beating the husband over the head, blood spraying everywhere. Holy shit!
For the next 55 minutes, we get what is almost a realtime account of our heroine (the wonderfully attractive Macarena Gomez*) trying to escape the landlord, who is sort of Stepfather-y in her desires to achieve perfection, except she doesn’t waste any time beating her subjects into submission. There is another family living there, all chained up and severely shell-shocked, and some other minor developments that mix it up a bit, but for the most part it’s just landlord v. tenant. Things rarely slow down, and even when they do it’s still suspenseful and unnerving.
What I really dug is how it seemed like it was going off into supernatural territory every now and then, only to quickly reveal the very ordinary (and chilling) reasons for these things. Like I said, it starts off like a typical haunted house movie; at one point the couple sees a photo of themselves on the shelf of the apartment they just entered for the first time. You might think it’s a riff on The Shining or whatever, but then the brain-beatings begin and you forget all about it. Then later, Macarena opens a fridge and discovers that it’s filled with the Mexican yoo-hoo drink she loves. Again, you might think it’s some sort of “the house will give you everything you need” thing, but a flashback explains that the landlord has been stalking them for quite some time.
I also like how the landlord gets her ass kicked as much as the hero. The heroine stays relatively unharmed, but both landlord and the husband are covered in blood (more shades of Inside) by the end of the film. It’s actually pretty impressive how gory this movie is when you consider the borderline non-existent body count (I’m actually unsure if ANYONE actually dies in the movie).
I want to quickly mention two soundtrack choices. One is the song during the end credits, which sounds like “A Little Respect” as imagined by Los Lobos. The other is Macarena’s ringtone, which is Hot Butter’s addictive song “Popcorn”. I actually started imagining the state of mind of someone who would take the time to download that as a ringtone. It’s the catchiest song you’ve never heard of (or, you just went on Youtube and looked up the song and went “oh THAT’S what that song is called!”).
Another thing that tickled me was the operator that she calls early on in the film when shit first starts going down. Granted her story probably sounds a bit silly, but the operator just seems borderline retarded; unable to comprehend even basic sentences. I was really hoping for a scene at the end of the film where she tracks the operator down and kills her in cold blood as a means of payback.
The making of is like all the others on this set; filled with blurry faces and everyone talking about how great everyone else was. The post house that edited them all clearly didn’t really care about mixing things up between them, so after 6 movies I was pretty sick of what was almost the exact same piece for each movie (which is a shame since this was my favorite movie of the bunch). Plus this one was needlessly stretched into a full frame image, so it was annoying to watch as well. Blah.
What say you?
*Sister of Cotton Eyed Joe Gomez, I believe.