The cinemas are opening again and there is a lot to choose from, especially for horror fans. In addition to Sam Raimi’s “The Unholy”, the Spanish horror film is also starting MALASAÑA 32 – HOUSE OF EVIL in the cinemas, which has it all despite a poor ending. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Malasaña 32 (ESP/FR 2020)
In 1976, the Olmedo family moved from their home village to the Spanish capital Madrid. There, she hopes, the chances of her private and professional happiness are greater. They buy a fantastic, spacious apartment on the sought-after Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 32. But the family of six soon discovers that something was being kept from them before the purchase: they are not alone. Strange things are going on in the apartment and pure evil is making its way into their midst…
Even though the film year 2021 has been quite battered so far due to the Corona crisis, horror lovers have hardly been left behind so far. In the first few weeks alone after the new cinema openings – at least according to current knowledge – twelve (!) horror films will be released. These include indie productions that are hotly anticipated by fans such as “Possessor” or “The Green Night”, but also big horror spectacles such as “Conjuring 3 – Under the Spell of the Devil”, the second part of the “Escape Room” series or the new M. -Night Shyamalan film “Old”. Another entry in the 2021 horror film calendar is the haunted house (or better: haunted apartment) production “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil”, which is out of the ordinary simply because, unlike the competition, it is not is not in English, but was shot entirely in Spanish as a Spanish-French co-production. There are still familiar faces to be seen, which allows a certain connection to be made to the “Conjuring” films and numerous other US horror shockers. Because Javier Botet, who we usually see on screen in his various monster incarnations (he was, for example, the Crooked Man in “Conjuring 2” and Slender Man in the movie of the same name), appears here in his human form for once. is also in the cast here alongside a handful of other Spanish actors. Together, the harmoniously cast ensemble brings a classic horror film to life, which stands out from the average in many details. But of all things, the lurid finale detracts from the overall impression.
The family: Fermin (José Luis De Madariaga), Rafael (Iván Renedo), Manolo (Iván Marcos), Candela (Bea Segura), Pepe (Sergio Castellanos).
A big difference compared to most haunted house horror films can already be guessed from the title: “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” does not take place in a remote mansion or an old, half-ruined villa; such as in “The Conjuring”, various “The Amityville Horror” film adaptations or “Poltergeist”. But in an apartment in the middle of the Spanish metropolis of Madrid. In addition, the four-person team of authors led by writer Ramón Campos, who became known for Spanish hit series such as “The Telephone Operators” and “Grand Hotel”, made the effort right from the start to establish the scenario coherently. The script doesn’t even allow for plausibility stumbling blocks, such as the obvious question in such a haunted scenario of why the haunted family doesn’t simply leave the house or, in this case, the apartment. The family that has poured all their money into the apartment is simply destitute and is therefore unable to leave their new home from now on or forego their daily work, so even leaving the children alone is difficult certain periods of the day simply cannot be avoided. In addition, the actors, especially the young person, embody Begoña Vargas (“Boca Norte”)the gradually increasing fear of her character is always authentic, so that the situation does not just escalate from the sudden disappearance of her little brother (and therefore very abruptly), but rather the whole horror can slowly build up in advance before it is fully unleashed on the family .
“The script doesn’t even allow for plausibility stumbling blocks, such as the obvious question in such a haunted scenario of why the haunted family doesn’t just leave the house or, in this case, the apartment.”
In general, “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” relies heavily on the emotional relationships between the Olmedo family. Although Begoña Vargas almost seems a little too old to portray a teenager (even though she herself is only in her early twenties in real life), she is particularly convincing in the interaction with her much younger film brother Rafael (Iván Renedo). The newcomer actor Iván Renedo, who is just eight years old, is reminiscent of Oakes Fegley in “The Goldfinch” in his always a little sad reserve and, even at his young age, manages to believably balance between a certain fascination, for example when suddenly talking to him (and what’s more (very scary) television dolls, as well as pure fear and the subsequent paralyzing lethargy that comes with it. It’s no wonder that Renedo, who makes his debut in “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil”, has four more film and series projects planned in 2021 alone and has also been seen regularly in the TV series “High Seas” since last year . Jose Luis de Madariaga (“Fidel”) Meanwhile, as a grandfather with lung disease, there is little more to do than suddenly appear somewhere and stare impassively into the area. Something that at first glance sounds like another horror cliché, but due to the hints of dementia and disorientation, it also makes sense and is nevertheless no less scary – if only because of Madariaga’s appearance. Of all people, the two heads of the family, Manolo (Iván Marcos) and his wife Candela (Bea Segura) as well as the older brother Pepe (Sergio Castellanos), are a little left behind. Some of the best scenes go to the latter when he sends messages over a clothesline to an invisible woman from the block opposite, which become more and more disturbing as time goes on.
What does Lola (María Ballesteros) know?
Although in an apartment (which doesn’t exist in reality – the real Malasaña in Madrid only has 30 house numbers), however spacious it may be, at first glance there are not nearly as many opportunities for creative expression as in a multi-storey house Director Albert Pintó succeeds in setting the scene so that the horror can befall the family in as many ways as possible (“Sky Rojo”) and his cameraman Daniel Sosa Segura (“Elite”), with their almost hypnotic image compositions, causing widespread discomfort. The jump scares are also spot on – especially in the first half. Even if the scariest moments in “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” are also the most subtle. For example, because the image motifs change in the background without any specific reference being made to them. It’s even worth watching the film a second time to possibly discover more little gimmicks like this. But over time, it’s not just the shocking moments that begin to dominate events. With the appearance of a certain character named Lola, the authors decide to make a complete 180-degree turn by not only resorting to motifs from the exorcism subgenre, which is known to not be particularly known for its subtle tones. They also take the path of completely dissolving the ghost, which reveals that the origin of the evil and its motives for its actions is quite interesting, but unfortunately the “how” to get there seems like a sleight of hand. It’s as if in the last few meters you didn’t really know how to actually bring the previously promising constellation to an end.
“Over time, it’s not just the shock moments that begin to dominate events. With the appearance of a particular character, the authors decide to make a complete 180-degree turn by drawing on motifs from the exorcism subgenre, which is notoriously not particularly subtle.”
Despite the disappointing finale, “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” is clearly one of the better representatives of its genre. This is ensured not only by a very harmonious production most of the time, but also by the creative people’s awareness that characters who are not just used as cannon fodder, but who stir up real sympathy among the audience, are clearly the better victims. Especially if you don’t have to constantly ask yourself why the haunted people do or don’t do this or that because of plausibility problems. A big plus point for a film that, as probably the smallest representative of the coming “horror weeks”, still deserves attention.
Conclusion: “Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” begins as a good haunted house horror film that scores with a largely plausible script, atmosphere and its ensemble. Only the resolution drops significantly in comparison.
“Malasaña 32 – House of Evil” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 17, 2021.