Recently I re-watched The Orphanage; one of my favourite horror flicks of recent times, and felt inspired to try out more Spanish films as they seem to have a knack for unsettling horror.
For Elisa caught my eye with its DVD front cover; a young girl in a blood-smeared dress standing by a wall as her creepy doll stares at you with hollow eyes. Perfect!
Also known as Para Elisa, this Spanish film follows Anna, a college student looking to make some quick cash and so applies for the job of baby-sitter for a local woman and her daughter.
It quickly becomes clear that the ‘child’ that needs looking after is actually a fully grown woman kept hidden away from the world by her bat-shit crazy concert pianist mother, Diamantina.
The interview does not go well and Anna ends up kidnapped, drugged, and tied to a chair as Elisa’s new ‘play-mate’.
What follows is a pretty tense situation as Anna desperately tries to escape, while at the same time, not incurring the violent tantrums of Elisa.
In the meantime, Anna’s boyfriend and friend try to find out what’s happened to her, though both are pretty rubbish at playing detective. The friend meets a particularly nasty end when she gets on the wrong side of Diamantina in an attempt to find Anna..
The film really barrels straight into creepy-town without much ceremony, which does leave the film feeling a little rushed, and we never really get a chance to know the characters very well.
Anna is depicted as a bit of a spoiled brat, getting mardy with her mum for not giving her the cash she needs. And her on-off boyfriend is kind of a dick, so not much to love in either of them.
That being said, Elisa and her mum are even more unpleasant, so you still find yourself rooting for Anna in the end.
Some of the plot points are a little sketchy and you may find yourself wondering what on earth is going on about halfway through the film.
Rather than painting Elisa as a sympathetic victim of her own mother’s twisted grip on reality, she is nasty and aggressive from the start, and only gets worse when she finds Anna trying to escape.
The film borrows a particularly memorable scene from Stephen King’s Misery, though whether they were aware of that or not is unclear.
all in all, this isn’t a bad film and worth giving a go. It’s just that is feels slightly disappointing when you’ve got a good story to tell, but the execution falls short.