Para Elisa

Dir: Juanra Fernández
Star: Ana Turpin, Ona Casamiquela, Luisa Gavasa, Jesus Caba

Brisk and to the point, this 75-minute Spanish shocker tells the story of Ana (Casamiquela), who needs money to fund a post-graduation holiday with her friends. To raise the money, she applies to get a job as a nanny, and goes to interview for the position with the mother (Gavasa). It soon becomes apparent that this is no normal position, with the ward being the mentally-challenged Elisa (Turpin), roughly the same age as Ana, except with a whole host of issues. Even worse, these extend to the mother, who drugs her unwitting aspiring employee, and turns her into a "doll" for Elisa to play with - it's hard to be sure which one is more barking mad. Meanwhile, Ana's boyfriend, Alex (Caba), is growing increasingly frantic regarding her apparent disappearance, and his previous brushes with the law leave that avenue of help largely closed to him.

It's an interesting twist to have a horror film where the three main protagonists are all female - Alex's role is largely irrelevant, simply a convenient way to rack up the tension - and in this way, it bears some resemblance to new-wave French horror classic, Inside. I'd have like to have seen the film do more with this angle, as it's when all three are interacting, that things are at their creepiest. There's a strong presumption that Elisa is far from the first nanny to have been employed here, and it might have been fun to have explored that avenue a bit more. However, the film concentrates almost entirely on Elisa's battle for survival, and if that direction does leave a chunk of potential on the table, it's executed with energy and no small amount of style. The ending is more inconclusive than I'd have wanted to see, but it's still nice to see a horror film that leaves you wanting more, rather than overstaying its welcome.

[November 2014]

Don't tell mom the
babysitter's dead...
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