Compulsíon is a Spanish film written and directed by Ángel González. It’s a violent film without a lot of bells and whistles. González had a clear-cut vision and delivered a story that had me on the edge of my seat. So it’s no surprise why it did so well on the festival circuit!
Compulsíon follows Esther (Marina Esteve), a shy young woman who suspects her mysterious boyfriend Robert (Paco Manzanedo) of infidelity. As Esther begins searching for the truth behind all these enigmatic business meetings, she discovers Robert has many sinister secrets. This discovery leads to the beginning of a seemingly endless nightmare.
The movie gets off to a relatively slow start. Even as the plot picks up, there is an unrushed and deliberate feel to the film, and I definitely don’t mean this as a negative thing. Compulsíon (despite its name) takes its time with you. It forces you to confront every brutal moment head-on and with eyes wide open.
There are some seriously gritty and vicious scenes in this film. Not in a way like Saw or House of 1000 Corpses, it is much simpler than that. But that simple barbaric brutality takes center stage without fancy traps, weapons, or relying on eccentric characters to make the film feel more like a fever dream than a terrifying reality. Compulsíon eliminates the far-fetched and leaves you with a story that feels painfully real, and that is truly frightening.
That frightening reality is most vibrantly personified during an exchange between Robert and Esther in which Esther asks Robert why he is doing all this. Rather than go into a lengthy monologue about the ills of women or about the intoxicating nature of absolute power, Robert just shrugs and laughs. His lack of an answer is spine-tingling. To quote Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) in Scream, “Did we ever find out why Hannibal Lecter liked to eat people? Don’t think so! See, it’s a lot more scarier when there’s no motive”. And that is absolutely true in the case of Compulsíon.
A story like this is only as good as its cast, and good is a cheap word for this talented bunch. Marina Esteve absolutely captivates as Esther. This role is quite an emotional undertaking and it would be easy to overact in an attempt to give the character life. Esteve remains poised in her acting choices and audiences will love her from start to finish. Paco Manzanedo is thoroughly disturbing as sociopathic boyfriend Robert. He displays a raw power that is controlled and without feeling which was absolutely chilling (and thrilling) to watch. Susana Abaitua plays lovely escort Fanny and her heart-wrenching performance is not one I will soon forget.
My only complaint is that the transitions felt choppy. After a tense scene, there would be a sudden cut and it felt too soon or out of place. Taking an extra beat before cutting would give the audience time to breathe and process what just happened (trust me it is needed).
Choppy cuts aside, I was absolutely in love with the end of the film. Gonzalez does a wonderful job of bringing the story home and really engaging you until the credits roll. By the film’s end, I needed a moment to take in everything I had just seen and reflect on the commentary being made. It was dark and I loved it. Fans of Spanish horror will definitely like this one. Compulsíon is now available On Demand for viewing.
Movie Rating: 7 out of 10
|Runtime:||1hr. 19 Mins.|