One of the great premieres of Netflix this week is ‘phenomena’a Spanish horror comedy that is based on the true story of Grupo Hepta, an altruistic organization focused on the investigation of paranormal phenomena in Spain long before the Iker Jimenez monopolize all the attention on this issue in our country.
With this curious starting point, ‘Fenómenas’ takes us to Madrid in 1998, a time when the group is going through a delicate situation, which makes them accept a case that apparently has nothing special but ends up getting complicated. much more than expected. The result is a fairly solvent film in general lines in which the work of its leading trio stands out.
Much better than expected
Something that raised serious doubts about ‘Phenomena’ was the presence behind the scenes of Carlos Theron, since I can’t say that I’m a great lover of his films -‘Operación Camarón’ was my favorite so far and it’s not like it was anything special- and I was also shocked by the idea that he was dealing with a work in which terror should have a more or less marked presence in the story. I was afraid that everything would end up being silly at the service of its two protagonists and paying little attention to its formal finish, but fortunately, I was wrong.
It is true that it is never dazzling, but from the first moment there is a certain concern that the fact of being located in a specific era is not a simple anecdote, something that is perceived above all in the characterization of the three protagonists, but also in other production design details that help to give greater consistency to the proposal. That also translates to the visual, with a successful job in the photography of Angel Amoros when it comes to putting the viewer in the situation, while Therón shows greater care when it comes to building the plans and playing with the script of Fernando Navarro and Marta Buchaca to create suspense and expectation around the events that are happening.
Yes indeed, Terror and making the viewer have a hard time is never something to which ‘Phenomena’ pays special attention, since he prefers to focus on the mystery of that antique dealer and how everything grows more and more until the thing completely explodes. Therefore, whoever is looking for an immersive experience or great scares, may forget to find that here. There are some shocks here and there, but in general it prevails to keep everything under control and give more priority to the investigation.
Very measured, maybe too much
There the film could have opted to take everything as a mockery and that the characters of Belén Rueda, Toni Acosta and Gracia Olayo stand out from the comic to the point of cannibalizing everything else. However, ‘Fenómenas’ is also quite measured there, looking for the personality of its characters to arouse the sympathy of the viewer instead of resorting to easy humor -here, it is more important to start from some more or less daily event and build from there-. This is something that the three of them know how to take advantage of to shine whenever the occasion allows it, thus becoming the main bulwark of the film, since their contribution is key to finding that complicated tone of always moving lightly but without undermining the threat. budding.
In addition, this more mature cast also helps to give ‘Phenomena’ a unique touch, since the film never shies away from this fact and does not hesitate to assimilate it when it comes to addressing both the story it tells us and the relationship between the three protagonists. It also helps that there are good contributions in secondary roles from interpreters such as Emilio Gutiérrez Caba or Miren Ibargurenwhere being at the service of the film also predominates instead of giving more importance to personal brilliance.
All this is also a double-edged swordWell, it’s true that there’s nothing in ‘Phenomena’ that stands out for the worse, but neither is there anything that shines with such intensity that it makes viewing it mandatory. It does make you curious to learn more about the history of this group of paranormal investigators – and that post-credits scene seems to be promising a possible sequel – but as a horror movie it’s pretty bland and as a comedy it’s not particularly funny, for what there will be who see here simply a missed opportunity. The key here is how well he knows how to manage between both realities so that he is seen as pleasing and his tight 90 minutes of footage are seen as pleasing.
So is it worth it or not?
‘Phenomena’ is not a great movie, something that is partly due to the fact that is satisfied with being at least correct in everything it proposes. The good work of the cast, especially Rueda, Acosta and Olayo, and the relative care with which it seems to have been done end up being the most stimulating of this kind of Spanish-style mix of ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Warren Files’.
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