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Manuel de Layet [Film Festival 11.24.11] review horror thriller

Year: 2011
Directors: Jaume Balagueró
Writers: Alberto Marini
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: The Crystal Ferret
Rating: 9 out of 10

Have you ever met Evil? Whatever your answer to this question would be, Jaume Balaguero latest piece might change the way you’ve ever pictured that concept. Away for the usual landmarks of the genre, he delivers us something pure in its inherent and total malevolence. Sometimes the title of a movie has little to do with the actual topic, in the present case “Malevolence” couldn’t be called otherwise. This is one of the most exhilarating depictions of day-to-day evil I’ve seen in a long time.

The pitch is quite simple and could be summarized like this : César is the concierge of a beautiful Art-Nouveau apartment building. He knows everyone, has the keys to everything. But César has a problem : anhedonia. He doesn’t know what being happy, or feeling pleasure is. He’s found a way to cure himself as you’ll see; a simple, efficient and wonderful way.

To his discharge, the tenants of the building are as human as pettiness, stupidity and exploitation can be. They are instantly disagreeable, and in many ways deserve what will happen to them, all of them but the female lead. Like the sacrificial lamb she’ll be, she’s a cute childish little creature you’d want to either cuddle or strap on something to use as living furniture.
Oh damn, I think I gave away something there, so much for a spoiler free review. My bad. But now that the damage is done, let’s get into some more details.

Yes, César as found a way to get better: making other people suffer. The happier they seem, the harder he’ll hit. The beauty of it being the clinical, methodical, concerted way he sets ups his pieces. Slowly, bit by bit, like water dripping on a stone he will insinuate himself in his victim’s life, thinking not simply about the direct result of his act but planning ahead the consequences of the consequences.

For this I want to thank personally both Jaume Balaguero and Luis Tosar, they brought back some memories I might have forgotten otherwise. César is sincerely the most vibrant portrait of usual evil I’ve seen since my grandmother. And no I’m not pulling your leg.

Having spent my childhood weekends in a small village where the national sport is the poisoning of the neighbor’s cats and the only entertainment is exchanging slander at the local cemetery, I found this movie brilliant. I’m not saying it brought back fond memories, but I feel less alone now. Other people have seen the undescript face of Evil, the one without horns or cloven feet, the one sleeping next to you.

If you’re a less scarred individual than I am, you might find the movie a little unsettling and need for a shower afterwards.

Truly a magnificient piece.

As parting words I will give you this to reflect upon: How often do you check under your bed?

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