La cara oculta (The Hidden Face) (2011) Film. Director: Andrés Baiz




This Spanish language thriller carries with it an air of a Guillermo del Toro backed project, and a lot of that is down to the score. Federico Jusid’s fantastic musical accompaniment to this brisk, spooky and surprising thriller more than recalls the tone of films like Julia’s Eyes (Los Ojos De Julia) and The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (both produced by Del Toro).  Yet while this film is not quite as accomplished as those efforts, it is far from sub-standard. Despite bearing all the signs we could be dealing with a spooky house or supernatural horror, the film takes a delightful twist midway. A twist so well worked and surprising it immediately eclipses any prior niggles – unless you have seen the far too revealing trailer!

This Colombian film must be doing something right, as it already has been remade by Bollywood as Murder 3. Director Andrés Baiz (Satan) has handled the film superbly and despite the odd crease in logic, has created a real mastery of suspense. For its 91 minute running time, you get excellent narrative value and Baiz manages to keep things coherent, mysterious and at times rather unsettling. The film is first and foremost a disappearance mystery and secondly a human drama/thriller. The film questions the extent of love and the consequences of our own personal tests of it.

The cast adds an authenticity to the proceedings too with very believable and very genuine characters. The writing has allowed for the darkest decisions of the mind to blend with the most foolish. Quim Gutiérrez is excellent as Adrián and gives the character a constantly changing perception. Especially when the film highlights his relationship with the disappearing Belén, a very impressive Clara Lago and his new girlfriend Fabiana (an equally appealing prospect inMartina García).

The Hidden Face may not be a scary film but is not meant to be; instead there is an unsettling coverage of this entire surprisingly deep journey. It is sad the film will not be attaining a big cinema release because while there are a few bumps along the way, they are not given the chance to become too serious. For a night in of gripping cinema, this is pretty much perfect. An intelligent thriller that sadly ends on a rather tepid note but a minute of a sour finish, cannot upset 90 minutes of good writing, build up and atmosphere. It may be forgettable next to more resonant Spanish language features; of which are becoming even more a constant but it’s a heck of a journey. Just DON’T watch that bloody trailer, which commits Dream House syndrome in spoiling the film’s main twist.



by Rich Cline 

With a relatively simple idea, this Colombian thriller builds almost unbearable levels of Hitchcockian suspense as a group of flawed people find themselves punished horribly for their mistakes. And filmmaker Baiz takes such a sleek, stylish approach that he draws us into the odyssey from each perspective, making it more harrowing by the minute.

It’s set in the capital Bogota, where Adrian (Gutierrez) has relocated from Spain to conduct the orchestra. But he’s struggling with the fact that his girlfriend Belen (Lago) has simply disappeared, and as he wallows in his loneliness he falls for barmaid Fabiana (Garcia). When she visits to his country home, she feels something isn’t quite right. And sure enough, we cut back to months earlier, when Belen became annoyed by Adrian’s constant flirting and plotted with the landlady (Stewart) to spy on him from a secret room in the house. But her plan didn’t go as intended, and now things are going to get a whole lot worse.

The film is a bundle of hints and suggestions that work together to create a marvellously oppressive atmosphere. There’s a snooping detective and a seductive violinist lurking around the edges, and the landlady has a Nazi past to make things even more intriguing. Meanwhile, Baiz packs the movie with tricky camera work, sudden jolts of thunder and darkness, a cleverly florid musical score, and even a pet dog that seems to understand things the characters don’t. All of this works together to obscure the fact that the story itself is rather superficial.

Aside from the twisty editing, the film isn’t actually that complicated. And the people are fairly one-note characters, although the actors make them sexy and engaging. Best of all is the way both Belen and Fabiana do something genuinely reprehensible, and yet we still root for them. By contrast, Gutierrez plays Adrian as a hapless guy whose relentless libido inadvertently causes all the chaos. In other words, this is a B-movie melodrama with first-rate production values. And by using every trick in the cinematic book, filmmaker Baiz has created one of the most enjoyably lurid thrillers in years.



By George Pavlou

A real grower, The Hidden Face turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

This is one of those movies that you really have to stick with, as if you can get past a sluggish opening then the rewards are there.

The set-up is quite simple – the film begins with our lead male, Adrian, being dumped by his girlfriend, only to immediately stumble into the arms of a good-looking barmaid, Fabiana.

Surprise surprise, they hit it off. After a few juvenile scenes of flirting and an unnatural comfort between the two new lovers, we get our first sex scene. Amid the frolicking, Fabiana delivers the line “I like this mirror” as she looks at herself. Little do we know how huge that is going to be.

The relationship between Adrian and Fabiana grows to the point where she has moved intoAdrian’s large empty house in the mountains. A perfectly clichéd setting for what was going to come.

Next up comes an inevitable extra layer. The police turn up while Fabiana is home with Adrian. He is asked about the disappearance of his girlfriend and remains calm but coy. Fabiana is not convinced but they continue to do the bad thing every other scene. The disappearance of Adrian’s ex-girlfriend is mysterious and we all saw how badly he took it.

Quim Gutiérrez playing Adrian is relatively one-dimensional. He played a potentially guilty character fine enough, but failed to grasp the fact his character had more than one plot-line on the go. Martina Garcia playing Fabiana is good at the lovey-dovey stuff and clearly had no issues getting her body out but was relatively GCSE at acting frightened.

Anyway, I digress; Fabiana starts to experience some supernatural goings on in the house and quite rightly tells Adrian she thinks the house is haunted. He puts her straight about it and they have sex again. Obviously.

And then comes the huge twist the movie was billed to have. Supposedly towards the end of the flick, for me the bigger of the twists was the middle one. I won’t go into what happens because I wouldn’t want to ruin the movie because it is, all things being said, actually a pretty good idea.

The director, Andres Baiz, does all he can to create the atmosphere of a thriller. And to be fair, I was thrilled after about 45 minutes when the first twist of the movie took place. I’ve got to be honest, up until then, it was all very clichéd. Girl goes missing, guy is heart-broken, guy meets new girl, police suspect guy, guy and new girl fall in love, potentially haunted house. Pretty basic stuff because we all think we know what is going on here.

This is a thriller that’s got it all. It may be a tad far-fetched, a bit out of the ordinary, you might even say a bit stupid. By no means up there with the best out there but I guarantee after the first 45 minutes of the film, no-one would be able to guess what was about to come. And that is the reason this film is worth the watch.