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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "No-Do" or "The Beckoning")

 

directed by Elio Quiroga
Spain 2009

 

Francesca (Ana Torrent, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE) has never gotten over the death of a child ten years before. The birth of her son has her anxious over his well-being (she gets up in the middle of the night to check his breath with a hand-mirror and is glued to the baby monitor). Her husband Pedro (Francisco Boira) decides they need to get out of the city so they purchase a massive house in the country that used to belong to a recently-deceased bishop. Coincidentally, Blanca (Maria Alfonsa Rosso, VOLVER) has woken from a sixty-year coma just as the sanitorium in which she is staying is shut down by miracle-busting Jesuit psychiatrist Father Miguel (Héctor Colomé, MAD LOVE). She recovers quickly and leaves behind a clue for the priest that implicates her involvement in a film experiment to capture supernatural phenomena on film. Meanwhile at the house, Francesca experiences strange visions and fears that something wants to hurt her baby. Pedro thinks she is too stressed to take care of her infant son and only daughter Rosa (Miriam Cepa) seems to believe her. Blanca has been skulking around the property. She gives Francesca and old photograph in which Francesca recognizes a little girl as one of the specters plaguing her. She tells Francesca to see Father Miguel. Father Miguel visits the house and discovers numerous votive offerings in attic and realizes that the house must have been a site of miracles. They discover a film cannister that reveals that the site had been visited by the branch of the Spanish newsreel service that covered religious phenomena for the church. Research into the secret archive reveals that the house was once a school and that three little girls claimed to have visions of the virgin Mary. Pilgrimages came to house to be cured by the girls but they grew sicker instead and the church realized that the force in the house was evil and that it is still present.

The film's original title NO-DO refers to Spain's state-controlled newsreel service during the Franco regime so it is nicely subversive that the plot should have had the the church using the service to cover - and cover up - reportage of religious phenomena. That said, this is not one of the better examples of new Spanish horror. That both the basement and the attic hold dark secrets is distinctive of the cluttered script which can't decide between two haunted house movie extremes. Is the point finding out the truth behind the outcome of the investigation into the school? If so, then why does it seem like the forces want to frighten people away? If the evil force is all that remains, then why is it drawing in the very type of people capable of destroying it? Father Miguel's backstory – covering up a case of sainthood because the woman was a prositute – is not really necessary here (nor is his conflict with a fellow priest who feels that the church's secrecy is more important than helping Francesca and Pedro). The story cuts back and forth between Father Miguel, Blanca, and Francesca so much that it really is not until the half-hour mark that the story finds focus. Virtually every scene transition has to be arty (fading to black and white scratchy film and back to spotless color, horizontal dolly moves with some green-screened vertical border covering up the cut, or brief blurry bits of the lost newsreel) but this is then dropped in the last twenty minutes or so when the story's momentum finally picks up. The CGI is quite accomplished but some of the aggressive color correction pulls one out of the story (how can you not expect to see ectoplasmic entities when everything's so desaturated). One SIXTH SENSE-esque twist manages to simultaneously induce groans and surprise the viewer but the questions it leaves you asking punch holes into the plot rather than suggest cohesiveness. Torrent (who made such an impression as a child in SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE and then later again in Alejandro Amenabar's TESIS) is good as usual but the material isn't particularly demanding. While the film's evocative unofficial English title THE BECKONING probably did not sound commercial enough, it would have been more appropriate than THE HAUNTING (already the title of two American horror films - Robert Wise's brilliant adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel and Jan De Bont's trashy remake).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 12 June 2009 (Spain)

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DVD Review: Phase 4 Films (Fangoria Frightfest 2010) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Phase 4 Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:33:57 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Phase 4 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.33:1

Edition Details:
• The Making of THE HAUNTING (16:9; 25:57 - in Spanish with English subtitles)
• U.S. Theatrical Trailer (16:9 1:44)
• 8 Fangoria Frights Previews (16:9; 30:29)
• Trailers for ROAD KILL, HUNGER, PIG HUNT, and DARK HOUSE
• Start-up trailers for FRAGILE, GRIMM LOVE, and THE TOMB

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

While Phase 4's FRAGILE had a progressive image, THE HAUNTING is interlaced. The film was shot in high definition (using the Sony HDW-F900 CineAlta and then transferred to film) so the image is quite smooth but the aggressive digital color work may be just as responsible as the possible PAL-conversion (the BBFC lists the upcoming Scanbox release as running 94:13) for a certain softness of the image (which may be intentional). HD images are smooth but sometimes characters' faces here look as waxy as overly DVNR'd film. The English dubbing is quite bad so don't even bother with that option. Fortunately the original Spanish mix is preserved in 5.1 (the English dub is 2.0 stereo) with English subtitles.

Extras are limited to a making-of featurette and US Frightfest trailer. Also included are 30 minutes of previews from all eight Frightfest entries and trailers for the other seven (divided between start-up trailers before the main menu and "More Fangoria Frightfest Trailers" option on the extras menu). The R2 Spanish release is reportedly not English friendly nor is the German edition which features a Spanish 2.0 downmix (the German dub gets the 5.1 treatment). Unlike the Spanish release of FRAGILE, the R2 edition does not appear to have that many more extras over the R1.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Phase 4 Films

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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