Review: Zulo (2005)

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Directed by: Carlos Martín Ferrera | 82 minutes | thriller | Actors: Jaume García Arija, Enric López, Isak Férriz

Ferrera’s debut film has a simple premise: what do you do when you’re stuck in a well and can’t get out, what happens to you inside? Neither the unfortunate protagonist nor the viewer receives any information about the how, what, where, when and especially the why of this kidnapping. The choice of the script writer Pep Garrido. You have to do it with that. And the makers have imposed another limitation: no background information, so no flashbacks, no possible motives. It really has to be about that man in that well, who cannot get out, nothing else. Still difficult.

And there you are, as an actor. Alone, in a well. And just play, let’s see what that does to you. How do you get that done? Then you almost have to do method acts, then you really have to grow that beard, then those nails have to get really dirty and you may even have to sit in such a hole without being allowed to come out. How do you make something like this tangible to your audience? In any case, what we see is: the nails are getting blacker, the beard continues to grow, becomes greasy and dirty, the man is getting more and more desperate, gets mood swings, gets sick, tries to lure his hostage takers out of the tent, gives up, keeps going , returns.

Fortunately, this is a film and not a stage. All cinematic means are used to make things tangible. Music, lots of music, to enhance the atmosphere, to bring out the inner world. And crazy montages, gears, decelerations, cut and paste, lots of close-ups. That’s nice, the sound is also very in your face. He gets a cigarette, you feel and hear his pleasure, you see the wounds. Hats off to sound and grime!

And yet you are not really taken by the throat. Maybe it doesn’t work because the music isn’t quite right, or the musical scenes are a bit long sometimes, or because Arija isn’t acting tangibly enough. Maybe the movie could have been twenty minutes shorter. It’s been the same thing for too long. Miguel’s struggle becomes visible, but too little tangible, there is no clearly traceable line in his mental attitude. Maybe it would have helped if we really had known a little more about him.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the director. Making this seemingly simple fact tangible in such an ascetic way probably requires more experience. The perfect fit for someone like Roman Polanski; for Martin Ferrera this is still a step too high.

Zulo (2005) Drama, Thriller | 82min | 21 July 2006 (Spain) 4.7
Director: C. Martín FerreraWriter: C. Martín Ferrera, Pep GarridoStars: Jaume García Arija, Enric López, Isak FérrizSummary: A man kidnaps people and imprisons them in a well for no apparent reason.

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