While most European horrors are battling each other for shock value, the Spanish still seem more intrigued by the more classical horror themes. And with success as they've proven numerous times before. After [Rec] and El Orphanato more of the good stuff is coming our way. Quiroga is releasing No-Do (retitled The Haunting) upon us, turning what should have been a rather tedious ghost flick into one lovely chiller of a film.
If the name Elio Quiroga doesn't ring a bell it's not because he's a novice but because his films can't seem to land a decent audience (at least outside of Spain). This is about to change as the Frightfest people picked up No-Do and decided it worthy for distribution. No doubt a great chance for someone like Quiroga to gather himself an international audience and to harvest some praise for his hard work.
No-Do is essentially just another haunted house flick. Even through it's been properly dressed up with some interesting side bits, the core of the film revolves around a family buying a new house and bumping into some ghosts running rampant. Of course they seek the help of a priest who seems to know a little bit more about what's going on in this particular house. It's all familiar stuff for people with even the slightest interest in the horror genre.
To spice it all up a little Quiroga added another angle, namely that of a Spanish TV-production company (No-Do). Apart from shooting regular news broadcasts the company was also appointed to document the findings of the church when examining listings of supernatural events. These films were locked away in a hidden film archive which plays a pretty important part in uncovering the truth about the history of the house.
If all of that still sounds a little stale, not to worry. Quiroga opens a can of visual splendor that easily carries the film all by itself. First of all thumbs up for the filters applied throughout the film. There are a couple of scenes that morph from normal footage to old worn-down footage in mere seconds, but with such detail and with such great results that it's hard to believe most of the hard work was done in post production. Very nifty effects there.
On top of that, the ghostly apparitions are really top notch and slightly resemble the effect used in Toy Reanimotor. Maybe not as explicit but the result is absolutely stunning, turning the ghosts from B-grade horror fodder into A-class extras. It's this kind of attention to detail that makes all the difference in these somewhat generic horror films.
The soundtrack is appropriate but not very remarkable, the same can be said about the acting. Nothing to fault, but the film isn't going to win any prizes in either category. More than sufficient for this type of film though and a lot better than the run of the mill American straight-to-DVD releases, but that's still not saying much.
The film does have one big flaw though. Throughout the film some very strange cuts and awkward filler shots appear seemingly random, as if the film was shot with commercial breaks in mind. Some little digging reveals that the original version of the film was clocking in around two hours, on release it was brought back to a mere 95 minutes. This 25-minute cut is sadly tangible and does mess up the movie in several places. Of course I can't vouch for the missing pieces, but I wouldn't be surprised if they made the film feel more like a whole.
That said, there is still plenty to enjoy. The film is blessed with a creepy atmosphere, luscious visuals and some pretty interesting twists. The ending is decent enough and makes for a worthy finale. It's a shame the whole was cut apart on the editing floor, but I guess pacing was deemed more important than atmosphere. Despite this annoying quirk, No-Do still stands proud amongst it peers.
Check out the trailer to warm you up.