Directed by Jaume Balagueró
Written by Jaume Balagueró, based on the novel by Ramsey Campbell
Starring Emma Vilarasau (Claudia Horts de Gifford), Karra Elejalde (Bruno Massera), Tristán Ulloa (Quiroga), Carlos Lasarte (Santini), Toni Sevilla (Franco), Brendan Price (Marc Gifford), Jordi Dauder (Forense), Pep Tosar (Toni), Isabel Ampudia (Secretaria), Susana García Díez (Chica Piscina), Carmen Capdet (Monja), Jessica Del Pozo (Ángela) and Judith Tort (Ángela, aged five)
The badly mutilated body of a six year old girl is discovered and is identified as Ángela, the daughter of Claudia and Marc Gifford, who had been reported missing previously. Many years later, Claudia and Marc’s marriage having long since broken down, Claudia receives a mystifying telephone call from someone claiming to be her daughter. She contacts Bruno Massera, the police detective who originally investigated the case. He has just resigned from the police force and is initially sceptical of her claims, but after a strange video tape is sent to Quiroga, a young journalist on a trashy magazine, his unofficial investigations uncover evidence of a secret society dedicated to the search for evil in its purest form.
‘The Nameless’ (‘Los sin nombre’, or ‘Els sense nom’, to give the film its Catalonian title) is a 1999 horror film directed by Jaume Balagueró, whose other films include ‘Darkness’, which stars Anna Paquin in a pre-‘True Blood’ role, and the critically well received ‘[REC]’. Balagueró also wrote the screenplay, which is based on a 1981 novel by the celebrated English horror fiction author Ramsey Campbell, whose work has been compared to that of H P Lovecraft.
A large portion of the early part of the film plays like a downbeat study of one woman’s consuming melancholia and the impact of losing her young daughter in such horrific circumstances, but as the film continues it turns into a kind of gothic horror study of the worship of evil, almost in style of old Hammer Horror films like ‘The Devil Rides Out’. The premise bears comparison to Balagueró’s own ‘Darkness’ and one notable scene is clearly modelled on ‘Silence of the Lambs’. Clichés abound, but the film also manages to be creepy and establishes a genuine sense of paranoia.
I have now watched several films made by Jaume Balagueró and although I would say they tend to be flawed, they are never less than interesting and this is perhaps the best film of his I have seen to date.
Review posted 7 August 2009