Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza teamed-up to bring us this thrilling story in the form of a found footage film. It’s one of the major inspirations of the video game Outlast: dark, claustrophobic, and a general unease feeling dominate throughout.
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
[Rec] was filmed chronologically in a building in Barcelona (Spain), and all actors were unknown to the public but good in improvisation because they didn’t get the scripts sometimes until right before shooting the scenes. The lead actress was indeed a presenter on Spanish television and the only directions she got were the places she had to go, the number of floors she had to go up or down, etc. She wasn’t allowed in the make-up room to see the other actors, so her reactions of terror were genuine.
The film only made it to the US on DVD after a sequel was planned and Quarantine, it’s remake, had been already released.
Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.
Written by Jaume Balagueró, Luiso Berdejo and Paco Plaza.
Starring Manuela Velasco, Carlos Vicente, Claudia Silva, Javier Botet.
EL ORFANATO [THE ORPHANAGE] (2007)
Can’t talk about Spanish horror without mentioning this beautiful and scary piece.
A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.
J.A. Bayona’s feature film debut kickstarted his career with a bang. Not only did he get one of the most sought-out actresses in Spanish movie and television, but he also helmed El Orfanato in the most perfect way. The story is already compelling, but Bayona’s craft makes it one of the greatest films of the 2000s.
Directed by J.A. Bayona.
Written by Sergio G. Sánchez.
Starring Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep.
LOS CRONOCRÍMENES [TIMECRIMES] (2007)
A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.
My favorite genres, all together in one film: Horror, Sci-Fi and Thriller. It’s a perfect packaged film from the directing and development of the main character to the way it’s all tightly connected, not leaving a sliver of flaw in the timeline. Its small scale helps elevate the intelligence of the writing.
Directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo.
Starring Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo.
LOS OJOS DE JULIA [JULIA’S EYES] (2010)
Horror movies about eyesight always freak me out, with characters not being able to see and creepy things happening around them, like Gin Gwai (The Eye), which was included in our list about Asian Horror: Modern Classics. What I felt watching this is no different.
The story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister.
We have Belén Rueda being incredible again and Luis Homar, who’s always a strong asset to any film he’s in. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this original thriller doesn’t fail to entertain and scare, while also keeping you engaged with an unpredictable mystery.
Directed by Guillem Morales.
Written by Guillem Morales and Oriol Paulo.
Starring Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Pablo Derqui, Julia Gutierrez Gaba.
MIENTRAS DUERMES [SLEEP TIGHT] (2011)
We have already included two other films in this list of Spanish horror from Balagueró, but this is probably his best one.
You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?
I don’t want to give too much away of this film, because it’s truly one to watch without too many pre-conceived notions about it. Trust that if you like creepy, twisted and disturbing characters, this is for you. Enjoy.
Directed by Jaume Balagueró.
Written by Alberto Marini.
Starring Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan.