The Hidden Face

Martina García in The Hidden Face
Martina García in The Hidden Face

Spanish title: La cara oculta
Country: Spain (67.44%) | Colombia (32.56%)
2011
Genre: Thriller
Director: Andrés Baiz
Produced by Guadalupe Balaguer Trelles, Andrés Calderón, Cristian Conti, Juliana Florez, Rodrigo Guerrero, Stefan Schmitz, María Zamora for Cactus Flower Producciones S.L. (40.4%), Avalon Productora Cinematografica S.L. (27%), Bunker Producciones Ltd. (32.6%),
Story and screenplay: Andrés Baiz, Arturo Infante, Hatem Khraiche
Music: Federico Jusid
Cinematographer: Josep M. Civit
Editor: Roberto Otero
Art director: Diana Trujillo
Cast: Quim Gutiérrez (Adrián), Martina García (Fabiana), María Soledad Rodríguez (Mesera), Jose Luis Garcia (Novio Pelea), Marcela Mar (Veronica), Humberto Dorado (Tito), Julio Pachón (Buitrago), Juan Alfonso Baptista (Ramírez), Marcela Benjumea (Forense), Clara Lago (Belén), Alexandra Stewart (Emma), Mozad (Perro ‘Hans’), Manuel Antonio Gómez (Sacerdote)
Spanish takings: €2.349.565,18
Spanish spectators: 399,646
Spanish subsidies: Ayudas a la Amortización de Largometrajes – General (Amount), Institution 2 (€500.000,00)
Budget: $2,600,000 (estimated)

Synopsis

Spanish conductor Adrian (Quim Gutiérrez) is living in Columbia when he starts a relationship with a young waitress Fabiana (Martina García). It turns out that his previous girlfriend Belen (Clara Lago) has gone missing, and the police have their suspicions that he might have something to do with it. Fabiana is willing to overlook this fact and moves into his large, isolated mansion, where spooky things start to happen: the lights go out in storms; the shower suddenly lets loose hot water; and strange noises come out of the taps.

Review

The Hidden Face
The Hidden Face

In my opinion, possibly the most interesting films being made at the moment are being made in Spain. There’s good stuff coming out of the UK, but it tends to be very proletarian, a mixture of tedious prestige products and just as formulaic genre films. French cinema seems to have gone back into it’s shell, relying on the eighties style conveyor belt of middle class dramas and comedies about angsty middle class people. Italian film is pretty much dead in the water; Scandinavian cinema has its moments but – like its literature – dresses up some of its innate silliness with superficial gloom.

The Hidden Face, on the other hand, is another great Spanish (or Spanish / Colombian, to be exact) film. As with Sleep Tight and The Body, to name but two other examples, it has at its heart a twisted, intriguing idea which is expanded into an engrossing script; all of these films play rather like episodes of Tales of the Unexpected with more depth and artistry. In the UK, for instance, people making thrillers fall back to easily on cops chasing serial killers, whereas this is something different, something less predictable.

Starting out with the structure of a classic ghost story, the plot twists and turns into something rather more Hitchcockian. At the halfway point it pulls the familiar narrative trick of flipping back in time and replaying events from a different perspective; but in this case it actually makes sense rather than seeming like a gimmick. The reason it really works is because the characters are so well composed: they’re ambiguous, far from black and white, and you never quite know what’s going on with them. Is Adrian a killer? Is Fabiana a gold-digger? Is Belen nuts? It’s a film which definitely has its antecedents – it has some similarities to those ‘crazy relative in the attic’ stories inspired by Jane Eyre and also a more immediate precursor in the under-rated and forgotten Spanish giallo Two Masks for Alexa – but it presents its material in a well-thought and original way. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10

Review by Matt Blake, 2016

What the critics said

“Though The Hidden Face, the new thriller from Andrés Baiz, the director behind 2007’s critically acclaimed crime thriller Satanás, is not strictly a horror film, it has all the qualities for a truly unsettling experience – atmosphere, suspense and a twisted climax which leaves you guessing until the final credits.” Cleaver Patterson, Starburst.

 

Notes and further information

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