Blind Alley

Don't like the look of your laundry.. Blind Alley
Don't like the look of your laundry.. Blind Alley

Spanish title: El callejón
Country: Spain (80%) | Colombia (20%)
2011
Genre: Horror
Director: Antonio Trashorras
Produced by Andrés Calderón, Cristian Conti, Miguel Angel Faura, Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo García Arrojo, Rodrigo Guerrero, Enrique Parbus, Michel Ruben, Isaac Torrás, David Troncoso and Juan Uruchurtu for Antena 3 Films, Roxbury, Esa Mano Amiga, Dynamo Capital, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia, Fondo para el Desarrollo Cinematografico, Ibermedia, Dynamo
Story and screenplay: Antonio Trashorras
Music: Alfons Conde
Cinematographer: Javier Salmones
Editor: Jorge Macaya
Art director: Juan Carlos Acevedo, Javier Alvariño
Cast: Ana de Armas (Rosa / Laura), Diego Cadavid (Gabriel), Leonor Varela (La Madre), Judith Diakhate (Nyela), Alfonso Rojas (Silencio), Néstor Alfonso Ortiz (Silencio), Frey Nicancio Díaz (Yonqui), Kimberley Tell (Chica moribunda), Paula Estrada (Novia de Gabriel), Karina Laverde (Madre anciana)
Spanish takings: €866,20
Spanish spectators: 176

Synopsis

Rosa (Ana de Armas) is a cleaner in a big hotel with dreams of becoming a dancer. After attending a late audition she stops off to wash her costume in a 24 hour launderette, where she comes across a selection of sinister and eccentric characters (an imposing hobo, a drug addict etc). So she’s very happy when the handsome Gabriel (Diego Cadavid) arrives, but he turns out to be far less benign than he initially appears.

Review

Blind Alley
Blind Alley

Blind Alley is another film which is heavily influenced by European genre cinema from the 1970s. It’s a debt that’s pretty explicit, even down to the excellent opening credits, which are very deliberately modeled on those from films by Jess Franco, Mario Bava et al; and that’s not to mention the fact that the protagonist is called ‘Rosa Neri’, a direct nod to Italian exploitation diva Rosalba Neri.

This was written and directed by the splendidly named Antonio Trashorras, who had previously scripted some very good Spanish horror films (The Devil’s Backbone, Agnosia). Despite it being his directorial debut he handles everything with some confidence, despite the overuse of rather gimmicky split screen and retro editorial transitions. He’s no doubt helped by the sensibly limited scope of the project, which is largely set in one location and with a very minimal assortment of characters. Although the plot does become a tad repetitive at times, it makes up for it by veering off in a genuinely surprising direction for the last twenty minutes or so, at which point it is revealed than this is anything but a standard stalk-and-slash style thriller. In the meantime there are some deliberately obtuse elements to the plot which are never really explained but which add to the sense of unease (quite why do we never see the face of Rosa’s sister, for instance?) Trashorras has since made the obscure black and white horror movie Anabel (2015), while Ana de Armas – who is excellent – had a prominent role in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock.

Rating: 6/10

Review by Matt Blake, 2015

What the critics said

“A cinephile’s homage to ’70s horror that’s much in debt to the likes of de Palma’s Carrie and Jess Franco, the distinctly oddball and deliberately divisive Blind Alley looks like an attempt by critic and debuting helmer Antonio Trashorras (co-scripter of The Devil’s Backbone) to show younger auds that chillers don’t have to be calculating and costly. But stripping the storyline back to girl-vs.-monster has its risks in these sophisticated times, and the pic’s main problem is that as horror, it fails to deliver.” Jonathan Holland, Variety.

Quotes

“A lot of the movies that have made an impact on me are Italian; films from Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, and of course, Mario Bava. I’m a huge fan of Italian cinema, particularly genre films. I’m also big on auteurs such as Fellini, Dino Risi, and Italian comedies. Italian genre films are a huge part of Blind Alley… If you watch 80s movies such as Robocop or Total Recall today, they’re largely shot on sets. A lot of action sequences take place on built streets. We used artificial lighting and the results are more dreamlike and unnatural. I’m not into naturalism and I don’t like realism. Movies are lies, they’re supposed to be fake. That’s why I like horror and fantasy films. I tried to make a realistic movie, with a girl washing clothes at a laundromat in an alleyway, as artificial and unreal as I could. That comes from shooting on a soundstage. If I had used exterior locations, on a real street, in a real laundromat, it would have been more realistic.” //The Devourer of Movies, An Interview with Antonio Trashorras.

Notes and further information

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