Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Damned: The Witch in Pandora’s Box
you see a little girl in a horror movie, run for all your lungs are worth.
Unfortunately, the Reynolds family does not realize they are in a fright flick.
Sure, they are stranded in an old decrepit hotel in the middle of nowhere, but
they are initially too preoccupied with their passive aggressiveness in Victor
García’s The Damned (a.k.a. Gallows Hill, trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
his wife’s death, David Reynolds’ relationship with his daughter Jill has been
strained. She makes no secret of her lack of enthusiasm for his upcoming
marriage to Lauren and receives plenty of encouragement for her petulant
acting-out from her hot aspiring journalist Aunt Gina. Determined to drag her
back to America for the wedding, the Reynolds must take a major detour to
retrieve her passport, because roaming around Colombia without papers is such a
good idea for international travelers. Of course, a torrential storm and a
highway mishap forces them to take refuge in an ominous boarded up resort that
now only houses creepy old Felipe and the little girl he has locked in the
they inevitably discover innocent looking Ana Marie, he warns them not to
listen to her evil lies, but they do. Needless to say, Felipe is soon proved
correct. It turns out the spirit of a witch executed on Gallows Hill was
possessing his daughter and is now out for revenge against the descendants of
first, The Damned looks like a
Colombian riff on Charles Beaumont’s classic “Howling Man” Twilight Zone episode, but it also takes elements from Gregory
Hoblit’s underrated Fallen and gives
them a good twist. In fact, the whole system of possession is a rather clever
bit of horror movie mechanics. However, the film’s best asset is the incredibly
eerie setting. Unlike the Stanley, this is one movie hotel horror fans will not
want to visit.
Twilight vampire franchise
survivor Peter Facinelli is pretty solid as the exasperated father. He makes a
convincing couple with Sophia Myles, who adds some welcome grace and class as
the eternally understanding Lauren. On the other hand, Nathalia Ramos’
constantly pouting quickly makes Jill a tiresome eye-roller, while Colombian
superstar Carolina Guerra is almost distractingly sultry as Aunt Gina, the
supposedly scuffling reporter.
Thanks to cinematographer Alejandro Moreno and
production designer Asdrúbal Medina’s team, The
Damned is a fine example of how much visual style and ambience can add to
horror film. Although García and screenwriter-co-producer Richard D’Ovidio
never reinvent the supernatural wheel, they keep it spinning quite effectively.
Recommended with confidence for genre fans, The
Damned opens this Friday (8/29), late night, at the IFC Center and is
currently available on IFC Midnight’s VOD platforms.
Labels: Colombian Cinema, Horror Movies