Latest posts by Alexander P. Garza (see all)
- Review: Little Rooster’s Egg-cellent Adventure (Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos) - October 30, 2015
- Review: Behavior (Conducta) - June 17, 2015
- Lorís Simón Salum and the Literally Short Film Festival - June 12, 2015
Más negro que la noche (Darker Than Night) is a campy, creepy, classic horror movie. It was written and directed by Carlos Enrique Taboada in 1975 and still holds up to today.
The story begins with three bratty female roommates who have just taken on a fourth one. They are struggling to make ends meet, and needing to make sure rent is paid this month. But then they get a stroke of luck. Ofelia (Claudia Islas) gets a letter, explaining that she has inherited a house from her aunt, who has just passed away. There’s just one catch. She and who ever lives there must take care of her aunt’s cat, Bécquer.
The acting was, for the most part, not very good. Be ready for things like fake crying and dry lines. Overacting and completely false emotions accessorized this film. But the acting was not intended to be the centerpiece. Taboada lets us know this when the housekeeper, Sofia (Alicia Palacios), looks straight into the camera to recite the title of the film while describing Bécquer. It cuts straight to a shot of Aurora in similar fashion, but with a mocking tone, looking straight into the camera, reciting the same words. This intentional breaking of the fourth wall seemed like a direct message from the director saying “Hey, enjoy the ride. Don’t over analyze”.
We are taken through beautifully creepy rooms and spaces throughout the course of the film. The dimly lit library carries rows of books on cold steel shelves, as shadows walk the stacks. The living room and staircase incite shadows to dance on them at night. The basement is full of relics and antique clothing. And the master bedroom is ordained with a tall window, that lets the wind throw its sheer curtains to and fro, while the rocking chair takes a life of its own. The garden is filled with ghostly voices calling for Bécquer at night, before the rain.
Finally, the massive size of the house lends itself to a creepy atmosphere. The use of red and black during a few of the shots, like the flashback of the murder of Bécquer were well used. If those shots were void of these filters and of the music, they would not have had as big an impact as they did, but instead would have been too cheesy to be taken seriously. The music and sound were fantastic, and only added to the creepy atmosphere Taboada created.
Aurora played by Susana Dosamontes, now widely known as the mother of international music pop star Paulina Rubio, probably hates Bécquer more than any other character, because Bécquer killed her pet canary. This is ultimately what sets Aurora into a rage thus attempting to kill Bécquer, which we find out about later in the film. The other two girls, Pilar (Helena Rojo) and Marta (Lucía Méndez) come to Aurora’s rescue when they see the cat leap at her face, and are actually the ones to kill Bécquer by beating him with fireplace tools. This entire scene unfolds in a black and red flashback. Making the scene seem entirely surreal, which as Pilar describes as all happening so fast.
Things take a turn for the worst, when Bécquer is found dead- supposedly by accidentally getting locked in a room and dying of starvation. Mysterious noises, voices, and figures begin appearing, usually at night. The girls accusingly confront Sofia multiple times, and although she admits guilt, none of the apparitions or noises cease. Ofelia finds her aunt’s wedding dress in an old chest and wants to use it for her own wedding. She stores it in her room, but the girls wake up to find that the dress has been stuffed into the burning fireplace, leaving only scraps and ashes of the once pristine dress.
We quickly realize that the house is haunted by Ofelia’s aunt, and the ghost will do everything it can to exact revenge on the girls for murdering Bécquer. Tension mounts during the horror and action sequences, but the dramatic transition scenes seemed to be filler. You are left hoping that one of the girls will come to their senses at some point, which further increases the suspense.
This was a great film and I highly recommend it to any cult horror movie fans. I look forward to watching the 2014 remake. Come back by later this week for that review, and be sure to subscribe.