Balagueró: Feminine horror
by Camillo de Marco
02/09/2006 - Madrid under endless rains, an apartment To Let that turns into a trap for a young couple: Jaume Balagueró has returned home, after the English language Darkness [trailer] and Fragile [trailer], the latter which screened at Venice last year.
The house in question is one of horrors, those anguished and skin-crawling horrors that the 38 year-old Catalan director learned to create through Nameless (Los sin nombre, 1999), Darkness (2002) and – the larger-budget, Calista Flockhart vehicle yet nevertheless less effective – Fragile.
"I’m not interested in the standard mechanisms that scare audiences", explained Balagueró during his press conference. "Each film requires different mechanisms. I try to be spontaneous in the scary scenes, it’s a question of using your gut, not your head, it’s instinctive. I let myself be carried away by my feelings. I especially try and avoid what the audience is expecting, I do the exact opposite, I prefer playing with the element of surprise. I’m often asked if I prefer gratuitous, explicit horror to something not explicit, hinted at. I think you need to vary, continuously invent new forms, create scenes that work and move audiences.
Balagueró’s is certainly a feminine kind of horror, in the sense that his main characters are always women: "I find the female universe more interesting, it’s a world I don’t know ". He has no specific teachers. "They’re all teachers to me, all the films I see teach me something, even the bad ones. I can, however, name some names: Cronenberg, Lynch, Spielberg, James Cameron, Tavernier, Kieslowski".
To Let is the last of six television films shot by different directors (the others are Alex de la Iglesia, Mateo Gil, Enrique Urbizu, Paco Plaza and Narciso Ibañez Serrador), made for a Telecinco series entitled "Films To Keep You Awake".
The film was produced by Julio Fernández and Álvaro Augustin for Castelao Productions, in co-production with Estudios Picasso Fabrica de Ficción, and is being sold internationally by Filmax International.
To Letwill be distributed in Italy by Sharada Films/Minerva Pictures.
(Translated from Italian)