September 1, 2014
El día trajo la oscuridad: young female vampires in love
For the Herald
And while female vampires surely are a central theme in horror cinema, it has almost never been explored in local cinema. Most importantly, the manner in which Desalvo examines this universe is as eerie as it is seductive, as atmospheric as it is surprising. And it’s fine genre filmmaking with an auteur imprint. But first, the storyline.
Virginia (Mora Recalde) lives isolated in a huge country house. She’s the only child of Emilio (Luciano Suardi) the town’s doctor, who leaves the house to help his brother’s younger daughter, for she is dying of an unknown disease. In time, Emilio’s brother’s elder daughter Anabel (Romina Paula) arrives to the house feverish and feeling very weak. In fact, she looks and feels just like her sister. She sleeps during the day and stays awake at night. On top of it all, there’s a strange case of rabies plaguing the small town. But is it really rabies?
One of Desalvo’s most commendable attributes is how realistically and believable the story is told. Don’t expect vampires with visible fangs, capes and gowns — for there are none. Instead, think of everyday young girls who, as they are alluringly drawn to one another, they gradually turn into night creatures in a slight, restrained manner. The acting is in the vein of naturalism, and so is the overall mise-en-scène.
However, when it comes to the cinematography, the criterion is more of a surreal, very climatic nature — even more when it comes to exteriors. Sometimes you feel as though time had been suspended, and as if normal things and ordinary people were about to disappear anytime. When the supernatural enters the territory of the mundane, a strange chemistry is effortlessly achieved.
On the other hand, El día trajo la oscuridad could have used a stronger dose of suspense, more tension in some very specific points of the story. Its languid pace does pay off as to ensure a dreamlike state, but it also backfires when it fails to accompany some twists and turns. Other than that, Desalvo’s feature is a healthy, refreshing surprise that makes a difference in the panorama of local horror cinema. That alone is quite praiseworthy.
Production notes: El día trajo la oscuridad (Argentina, 2013) Directed by Martín Desalvo. Written by Josefina Trotta. With Mora Recalde, Romina Paula, Luciano Suardi, Pablo Caramelo, Marta Lubos. Cinematography by Nicolás Trovato. Sound design: Federico Esquerro, Santiago Fumagalli, and Adriano Salgado. Music: Jorge Chikiar. Art direction: Fernanda Chali. Editing: Andrés Tambornino. Produced by Domenica Films. Running time: 76 minutes.