6 years

Review: The Hidden Face (2011)

The Hidden Face offers lower ebb brilliance but still excellent value for its seemingly brief duration.

A review of The Hidden Face

This Spanish language thriller carries with it an air of a Guillermo del Toro backed project, and a lot of that is down to the score. Federico Jusid’s fantastic musical accompaniment to this brisk, spooky and surprising thriller more than recalls the tone of films like Julia’s Eyes (Los Ojos De Julia) and The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (both produced by Del Toro).  Yet while this film is not quite as accomplished as those efforts, it is far from sub-standard. Despite bearing all the signs we could be dealing with a spooky house or supernatural horror, the film takes a delightful twist midway. A twist so well worked and surprising it immediately eclipses any prior niggles – unless you have seen the far too revealing trailer!

This Colombian film must be doing something right, as it already has been remade by Bollywood as Murder 3. Director Andrés Baiz (Satan) has handled the film superbly and despite the odd crease in logic, has created a real mastery of suspense. For its 91 minute running time, you get excellent narrative value and Baiz manages to keep things coherent, mysterious and at times rather unsettling. The film is first and foremost a disappearance mystery and secondly a human drama/thriller. The film questions the extent of love and the consequences of our own personal tests of it.

The cast adds an authenticity to the proceedings too with very believable and very genuine characters. The writing has allowed for the darkest decisions of the mind to blend with the most foolish. Quim Gutiérrez is excellent as Adrián and gives the character a constantly changing perception. Especially when the film highlights his relationship with the disappearing Belén, a very impressive Clara Lago and his new girlfriend Fabiana (an equally appealing prospect in Martina García).

The Hidden Face may not be a scary film but is not meant to be; instead there is an unsettling coverage of this entire surprisingly deep journey. It is sad the film will not be attaining a big cinema release because while there are a few bumps along the way, they are not given the chance to become too serious. For a night in of gripping cinema, this is pretty much perfect. An intelligent thriller that sadly ends on a rather tepid note but a minute of a sour finish, cannot upset 90 minutes of good writing, build up and atmosphere. It may be forgettable next to more resonant Spanish language features; of which are becoming even more a constant but it’s a heck of a journey. Just DON’T watch that bloody trailer, which commits Dream House syndrome in spoiling the film’s main twist.

  • The plotting and direction of it is tight and the main twist is beautifully done, the acting is of good calibre and the soundtrack is excellent.
  • It won’t linger in the memory as long as some other recent acclaimed Spanish thrillers, the finish is a bit tepid and if you have watched the trailer you have ruined the film for yourself.

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