In Spain, the vanished six years old daughter of the editor Claudia is found completely mutilated in a well by the police, being recognized by her husband only due to a bracelet and her shorter leg. Five years later, Claudia, divorced and addicted in tranquilizer, receives a short phone contact from her daughter. She looks for the former detective in charge of the investigation, and together with a reporter of a magazine of parapsychology, they find the existence of a diabolic sect called “Los Sin Nombre” that searches the essence of pure evil.
Hard to believe it’s already been 23 days. 23 movies that I’ve never seen before, and it just goes by so quickly. This time around we’re looking at the 1999 Spanish film, The Nameless. Based on a novel of the same name by Ramsey Campbell, which I hilariously remembered that I owned after a credit for the novel showed up on screen. The copy of the film that I got my mitts on was released by Dimension and sadly was an English dub, rather than a subtitled version. While I’m sure that this might have been a bonus for some, it actually hurt my experience more than anything.
The Nameless is really not a horror movie, which makes it all the more frustrating that I found it on more than one “Great horror film” lists in doing research for this series of reviews. I would classify it somewhere around the same level of “horror” as Se7en, though that film absolutely had more horror elements. There does seem to be some effort made here to look like Se7en, with the drab gritty colour scheme and the fact that it is a crime drama that deals with some pretty disturbing crimes.
That really is where the horror of The Nameless comes from, the subject matter; the movie deals with a dead child, and isn’t too shy about showing her body to you at the beginning of the film. You really do feel the mother’s pain as she wishes so desperately for her daughter to be alive, and her need to rescue her from her captors. The movie starts off pretty well, and builds a really interesting mystery that feels straight forward. Unfortunately, a little more than half way through the whole thing comes way off the rails. Weighed down by its subplots that include a writer for a paranormal magazine, old Nazi experiments, a shadowy cult, and an ex-police officer. There’s so much happening in a movie that runs at less than two hours, that pieces are inevitable paid more attention than others, and as a result the whole thing feels off-kilter and disjointed.
The performances are pretty good all around, even if the dubbing was less-than-stellar at some of the key moments in the film. One particularly outstanding performance goes to Carlos Lasarte, who plays Santini in the film, and you might recognize as Cesar in REC and REC2. He is an exceptionally sinister actor, who is built up through the movie and actually manages to be as frightening when he is introduced as you expect him to be. Brendan Price also does an excellent job as Marc, but I won’t go into exactly what makes that performance work, because I won’t spoil the experience for you. The other actors are fine, but their vocal performances are significantly under cut by the English voice-actors.
The Nameless is, at the end of it all, a bit dull and confusing. There are some excellent pieces of cinematography and pretty gross gore effects. Add the solid performances and what I’m assuming must be a pretty excellent piece of source material, and it still manages to fall pretty flat, and it’s really too bad. This could have been a really excellent mystery/crime film, but it leave you feeling like something is missing. Not one that I’d strongly recommend.
MY RATING: **