Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
A distressed woman is kidnapped by a former flame and forced to examine her life.
Is it good movie?
I have to admit something; my knowledge of the Spanish film community is quite limited. In fact, off the top of my head I canít think of any titles, but that shouldnít matter because somehow I doubt many are like Liberto Rabalís new film Sindrome, which isnít exactly standard issue material. Itís about people with some serious issues, where drugs, sickness, paranoia, and sex flow even through brother and sister. Everyone within yearn for placement in the world, all trying to figure out how to survive. Now, these arenít exactly fresh ideas and themes, but Sindrome does confront them in an unusual manner. The story revolves around three lives, a sexually conflicted brother and sister -- Alex (William Miller) and Ana (Adriana Davidova) -- and Anaís dying ex-boyfriend Victor (Javier Albala), who learns at the start that he has a month to live. We quickly discover that Ana is the filmís focus. Constantly drugged, she sleeps with anyone giving her attention, even her brother in some very graphic and disturbing scenes for anyone with a sibling of the opposite sex. Anyway, with Victor dying, he begins to obsess over his lost love and decides to kidnap her so she can reevaluate her goals. He states over the opening credits, ďHappiness. Love. Pleasure. Caresses. Being at the limit of something is happiness as web. What if you imagined happiness now? Would it be for you?Ē This defines his obsession, but it isnít until he kidnaps her that the movie gains momentum. Until then Ana just stumbles about town, defining her aimless life. But with the kidnapping, Ana starts to become human, even with a dog collar wrapped around her throat. She starts to understand and well, I donít want to spoil the thing. And just in case it becomes difficult to follow, Sindrome divides scenes like chapters, each given a label such as syndrome, dependence, compulsion, want, fear. I actually felt these added to the movie, giving a true character study approach and documentary quality despite the annoyance of the cinematography, which plays out like an experiential flick from the 60s. It fluctuates between standard, slow motion, and dream-like sequences that force the conscience state of the characters on viewers, but frankly, it just got on my nerves.
This isnít horror as we tend to think of. Sindrome emerges as a psychological film that examines characters, not necessary plot and story. While those elements exist, the concentration on Ana and the dying Victor add a sophisticated element that rises above the standard, even if though it does through in the sex. Nevertheless, while it isnít a slasher film, it does draw some specific comparisons, most notably the American Saw series with essentially a duplicate plot: a dying man decides to kidnap an individual who the kidnapper has deemed has wasted their life and wants to give them a chance to change their ways. Yeah, Iíd say thatís the same plot. Of course, Sindrome lacks elaborate traps and graphic gore, but it makes up for it with gratuitous nudity of all sexes, including plenty of the eye catching Davidova, whoíll draw all focus with the removal of her shirt. And she does that often. Sindrome is a good analysis of how off people can truly become. Trouble does emerge, however, because itís hard to stick with at times when everyone seems so unlikable, so twisted, so dark. Even Ana, kidnapped, tortured, raped, and beaten, seems hard to fully sympathize with because sheís not likeable. She sleeps with her brother for Godís sake. And I donít know about you, but here in the States we call that incest. And thatís true horror.
Video / Audio
Video: Standard as far as I can tell.
Audio: Spanish with English subtitles.
A pretty good flick if you can stomach an hour and a half with unlikable characters. While not heavy on the horror side, it has plently of psychological elements to keep a shrink busy for a lifetime.