Blending The Amityville Horror with Poltergeist, adding just a touch of The Evil Dead, AND season one of Channel Zero, and spicing it all up with some Spanish seasoning, 32 Malasana Street is an absolutely fantastic horror movie for those who don’t mind the kind of tricks and scares we have seen so often in the more successful mainstream horrors, as long as they don’t mind reading subtitles at the same time. The very end wanders into potentially problematic territory, certainly in a way that the horror genre has been criticised for before, but, when you think about who the real villains are, it almost gets away with it.
The story is quite simple. A family move into an apartment. That apartment is a bit creepy. The family have different strains on their relationships, including a grandfather who sometimes loses his bearings and the financial burden of getting their new home, and the increasing danger from whatever presence lurks in their home leads to them digging away at a backstory that we all know should be brought to a head before it all ends.
There’s nothing here that is new or groundbreaking. What you get are some well-developed characters (not all of them, but most) and some perfectly-executed scare moments. One particular method is repeated a few times, but it is easy to forgive as it is so well done.
Director Albert Pintó, who has a couple of features and quite a few shorts to his name already, proves himself very capable of crafting a fantastic atmosphere of tension and creepiness. The script, co-written by a quartet of writers, tries to throw a few twists and turns in, not all of them successful, but it’s admirable in the way it underplays one or two moments, taking circumstances that have affected the characters and using them to keep turning the knife, as it were, to various degrees.
The cast are all superb. Although Begoña Vargas and Iván Marcos are the mother and father of the main family unit, and although both are great in their roles, Bea Segura and Iván Renedo are often the focus of the frights, playing the daughter and youngest son, respectively. José Luis de Madariaga is the confused grandparent, and Sergio Castellanos is the older son, involved in some scenes that very effectively make use of a washing line and communication via hand-written notes.
I can understand if people watch this and roll their eyes at the moments they feel they have seen so many times before, from the child wandering closer to danger as he seeks a toy that has rolled too far away to the very final shot, but I think it is worth bearing in mind that watching something that does all of the genre tricks so well makes it all too easy to forget how often you have sat through films that have done all of the same thing, but far less effectively.
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