REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-LAURA MANA CAST-DARIO GRANDINETTI, GOYA TOLEDO, FERNANDO GUILLEN and ERIC BONICATTO. SOURCE-MANGPONG ENTERTAINMENT THAI DVD RELEASE (PAL REGION ALL)
Ramon (Dario Grandinetti) is brought into the police station for questioning on the disappearance of his ex-wife Laura (Goya Toledo), whom he had been divorced from for nearly four years. At first he admits to doing nothing wrong and that he had not seen her since their divorce trial. Then when the police produce and show them a video tape of Ramon confessing to a killing, he then starts telling them the whole story. A story where he kidnaps his wife and brings her to his house, to his basement. There he tells Laura that he has killed 18 people and that she was to be the 19th and final. He backs this up by showing Laura that very tape the police had produced. Where Ramon plays head games with his ex-wife in order to get her to admit to all the lies she told the court during the trial. Word chain being the game of choice, he scares Laura into playing, saying that if she were to win, heíd set her free, but if she were to lose heíd make her his 19th victim. Furthering it by telling her the gruesome details on how he would do it, starting with scooping her eyeballs out with a spoon. Of course Ramon assured the police that this was all a grand set-up in order for his wife to admit her lies. The police just donít buy the story and decide to investigate further. The reason being, there is still no sign of Laura, who Ramon claims has gone far away.
Imagine your life holding on to a single thread, that thread being rather you have correctly followed up with the right word in a nerve wracking game of word chain. The sweat rolling down you face, almost as deep as a river at times. Your body heating up like a water tank boiling ready to explode. Your nerves on the trim of a steep cliff ready to fall. This is exactly the total feel of this incredible crime thriller from director Laura Mana. These and many more emotions are spilled during the 88 minute long trip into total chaos of the nerves. Intensity deepens especially during the scenes in Ramonís basement, trying to figure out what exactly he is all about and about to do. Is this all just a grand set-up or is it the real deal. There is simply nothing giving away until the end, as Ramonís plan is played out to the perfect ending. Even when he is brought into the police station and when you think they have him after showing him the evidence, you thought wrong. He plays the police as well as us the viewers as a bunch of fools until the very end. Admitting only to what he needs to and nothing more, as that something more is a major question the is heavy on the mind throughout the entire film. Sure this guy is guilty of kidnapping his ex-wife, but is he guilty of murder? Itís like watching SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are over again, where Clarice questions Hannibal, but he only replies with puzzles. KILLING WORDS is simply one of the most complete thrillers to come out of Spain in quite sometime. One that relies heavily on using mental head games as the scare tactics as well as the story pusher.
A truly entertaining storyline isnít complete without the good acting, and there is surely no shortage here. Especially with the calm and collective psychotic performance by Dario Grandinetti. Casted with perfection, Dario gives us a classical clash of intensity versus adversity. Visions of at one point being the villain yet in others being the victim. All of which is sheltered under this enigma of calmness, being well collective in his actions and thoughts. His interactions with Goya Toledo are also quite convincing as a couple or shall I say ex-couple. The body language between the two of them displays an honest look at an actual couple re-encountering after a nasty legal battle a few years ago. Bruised and battered, but yet ready to start yet another chapter in their bloody war. Opposite Grandinetti is the equally as strong in character Goya Toledo who like Grandinetti pulls off a superb performance as Ramonís ex-wife Laura. Her ability to turn her game from the victim to in some areas the aggressor.
On the technical side to KILLING WORDS, both the filmís look and feel or more so atmosphere are both very dark and gloomy. The perfect setting as for most of the film takes place in Ramonís low lit basement. The cinematography is done by Xavi Gimenez who is responsible for many of the hot new thrillers to come out of Spain of late. Films like Brad Andersonís THE MACHINIST, Jaume Balagueroís DARKNESS and THE NAMELESS. His trademark is all over KILLING WORDS something that is quite consistent with all of the above films. Accompanying Gimenezís great camera look and work is editor Luis De La Madrid who many would recognize through his work on films like Balageuroís THE NAMELESS, De Toroís THE DEVILíS BACKBONE and Brad Andersonís THE MACHINIST. In KILLING WORDS, Madrid displays his ability to create a series of exceptional transitions which move the storyline with a perfect and very entertaining flow. Once again a trademark that he too like Gimenez has managed to keep throughout their careers. Both of these elements give KILLING WORDS that extra push in area which seem to be stagnate or slow and giving them the right touch to move them along.
There is currently two official releases of KILLING WORDS out of now with a third one on itís way this July from Lionís Gate. I viewed the Thai PAL Region ALL DVD which was pretty much barebones with only a trailer on hand. The print was also presented in a full-frame aspect ratio which hurt the look of the film as it seemed stretched. There are both Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital Surrounds options to choose from as well as Thai or English subtitles. Now, the as for the upcoming Lionís Gate release, I wouldnít expect much in the line of extras on that release either as they have been know to be cheap when it comes to films of this nature. So, I would probably go with the official Spanish DVD release which is also a PAL R2 disc. It also houses some interesting extras, but only with Spanish options. Still, itís at least more for your buck if youíre looking to invest in this Spanish thriller.
STORY/FILM- 4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE- 3 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO- 4 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS- 1 BITCH SLAP OVERALL DVD- 2.5 BITCH SLAPS
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