61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: To Let (2006)


For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, and a list of previously featured films, please go here.

To Let (2006)

This is perhaps the hardest of the series to write about. Juame Balagueró is a filmmaker whose work, form what I’ve seen (which is a handful of his titles), I usually like. He has a way of layering his tales, a disturbed sensibility (essential for horror) and usually paces his tales very well. This is not the film to watch if you want to see that statement exemplified, however.

As has been a pattern in posts about these films there had been much discussion of pace because when the running time is something outside the norm then the film needs to do something outside the norm to make it work. This does not. It is the shortest of the six films and feels like it’s the longest by far. There are both editorial and narrative reasons for that.

However, pace is not the only issue this film has. This film has a fairly outrageous premise, which in and of itself isn’t a problem, especially for a horror film. However, it’s one that’s fairly well telegraphed. Only the details are twists. There is in a film like this a “get outta there” element that has to be dealt with. And it is, but the turns it takes make it further and further insane, aside from the fact that they occasionally waste time in an already short yet long-seeming film.

For a tale such as this one to work the acting has to be spot on and it’s perhaps the least effective in the entire series, which contributes to the telegraphing that this woman plans to keep this couple as long as possible, whether they like it or not.

But wait there’s more, it’s also visually disturbing in the wrong way. There is excessive and artless jiggly-cam at the most inopportune moments.

I could go on to further enumerate the faults I find with the film but that would become tiresome. Needless to say this is one of those movies where even the more basic things like business (the actor’s actions) are poorly staged and executed. If you were to skip just one of the six films this would be it.

61 Days of Halloween: Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre (2006)


For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween and a list of films previously feature go here.

Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre (2006)

Part of why I write about movies, and why I’m not so hesitant to revisit them at times, is that my memory can be a bit dodgy at times. When thinking back on these films it was the one further down the list of Favorite Older Films, A Christmas Tale, that stood out more, but here’s what I wrote:

I embrace any and all horror series like Six Films to Keep You Awake that round up genre directors from certain countries to tell quick effective tales. It’s not dissimilar to Door into Darkness or Masters of Horror, this edition highlights the uniquely opaque, intricate and dramatic flair that Spain has for the genre. There will be another tale from the series on this list. This is the one that separates the die hards from the casual admirers.

Part of my wanting to write about them here is first to highlight them, as I acquired them on DVD, but also to disentangle them. In trying to surmise a series of films, a much more limited one than say Masters of Horror, generalizing and grouping can do a disservice to the individual titles.

This is title really toys with chronology and with perception, its jumps through time in a character-based way and what’s best about it is its myopic focus and view of events. For only through entering the protagonist’s perception can we glimpse Moira in a different manner than the entirety of the town does. When it’s boiled down what occurs is fairly simple but the jarring, disorienting moments, the paradoxical ones, and the way in which the narrative unfolds are what make it so fascinating to watch.

Tales of obsession, be them adolescent or adult, can be hard to convey, especially in the horror genre, but I think this one sells it very well.

Another reason to revisit titles at times it to see if you over-estimated or under-estimated something the first time around. Complete reversals of opinion are rare, as they should be, but re-evaluations are good. I will see if I tweeted about another title in the series but I may have given that one the short-shrift just slightly. With this one I agree with the assessment that this is not necessarily the title that will make one gravitate to Spanish horror, but those who already like it may come to appreciate it.