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Director Spotlight: The Fear Filled Filmography of Jaume Balagueró

The Nameless

Most are acquainted with director Jaume Balagueró as one of the co-creators liable for one of probably the most terrifying collection in trendy horror, [Rec], however the remaining of his style devoted filmography doesn’t have as massive of a following because it ought to. Balagueró comes from a category of Spanish filmmakers, together with the likes of J.A. Bayona, Paco Plaza, and Alejandro Amenábar, who created a brand new wave of horror on the flip of the century. Their movies didn’t simply put horror on the map in Spain, a rustic the place horror was comparatively sparse prior, however it made the remaining of the world take discover, too. Balagueró’s movies show he’s adept at each bodily and psychological terror, and a singular voice in horror value taking note of.

The Anonymous

The Nameless

This unbiased Spanish horror movie marked the director’s function debut, and it additionally occurs to be the least recognized amongst his works. A sluggish construct horror thriller that opens with a police crime scene during which the physique of a small baby is discovered stuffed down a properly. The grisly post-mortem that follows exhibits the physique mutilated past recognition and proves the poor baby suffered horribly earlier than dying. Solely a bit of jewellery may help the mother and father determine the physique as their very own lacking youngster. Flash ahead 5 years later, the place mother Claudia nonetheless hasn’t moved on. She receives a name someday from her lifeless youngster, claiming that lifeless physique was a plant by people who took her, and she or he’s nonetheless very a lot alive. It units off a twisty spider’s net of conspiracy as Claudia seeks to unravel the thriller of who was on the telephone, and what actually occurred to her lacking daughter years in the past.

That slowness is more likely to postpone viewers, however Balagueró takes his time constructing thriller and unnerving cult lore. The deaths are ugly, and The Anonymous are tremendous creepy. It’s right here that he establishes his fearlessness in refusing to wrap issues up in a tidy, completely happy bow. The Anonymous didn’t make its means stateside till after his English debut, although, making this 1999 launch one of the last decade’s most underseen horror movies.



Balagueró’s English language debut didn’t fare nicely upon launch stateside on Christmas day in 2004, at the very least not critically anyway. It’s straightforward to know why. The advertising introduced Darkness as a well-known haunted home story, which turned out to not be the case in any respect, and the ending was fairly grim – removed from the norm on the time, particularly for a Christmas launch. It additionally didn’t assist that regardless of the wealthy occult mythology on the coronary heart of the movie, Balagueró hadn’t fairly mastered his storytelling but and Darkness might be obscure at occasions.

The plot follows an American household as they settle into a house that was the location of the disappearance of six youngsters forty years prior. The transfer alone can be annoying for any household, however patriarch Mark (Recreation of Thrones’ Iain Glen) is affected by Huntington’s illness, and his symptomatic outbursts put a further pressure on his spouse, Maria (Lena Olin), teen daughter Regina (Anna Paquin), and younger son Paul (Stephan Enquist). Whereas Paul appears vulnerable to the ghosts of the home’s sordid previous and Maria clings to denial, it’s Regina that delves into the home’s horrifying historical past within the hopes of saving her family members. Spooky set items and a singular, bleak story steeped in occultism demonstrated quite a bit of burgeoning potential for the director.


The director’s third function movie, a Spanish-British manufacturing, confirmed exceptional progress. The story was tighter, extra targeted, and downright terrifying. For those who’re a fan of supernatural horror movies, anyway. Nurse Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart) is fleeing her personal guilt-ridden previous by taking over an evening shift at a rundown hospital getting ready to shut. She’s to observe over the youngsters’s ward, whereas they’re all quick asleep, however the youngsters maintain waking from random accidents. As Amy tries to stop additional accidents to her sufferers, the youngsters inform of Charlotte, a woman who inhabits the deserted flooring upstairs.

That’s proper, this can be a haunted hospital story. In Balagueró’s palms, although, it’s fairly terrifying regardless of how acquainted the tropes. It additionally helps that there’s a reasonably candy story that engenders itself to the viewer nicely, between Amy’s want for redemption and her emotionally partaking bond with orphan Maggie. Charlotte is one of the creepiest entities of the early aughts, too. Fast paced, charming story, and very creepy scares, Fragile is the right bridge between the director’s earlier occult tales and the extreme discovered footage trendy basic but to return.

To Let

To Let

This made for TV film follows a younger couple looking for a short-term place to stay after promoting their house. They uncover an out of the best way constructing with an empty flat, however the landlady doesn’t appear to need to allow them to depart. Ever. It’s atmospheric and tense, because the younger couple (who’re anticipating their first youngster) are trapped inside with deranged individuals. Although, it’s plagued with dumb individuals making dumb decisions, it’s much more intense and bloody than most TV films.

To Let was half of the brand new Movies to Hold you Awake, or Películas para no dormir, collection that aired in Spain in 2007. Balagueró’s twisty movie was the second entry on this revival.



Balagueró teamed up with Paco Plaza, who he’d beforehand labored with on a 2002 documentary, to co-helm the last decade’s scariest horror film. The pair erased any doubts that there was life left within the discovered footage subgenre with [Rec], a movie that adopted reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman as they cowl the night time shift of an area hearth station for her actuality collection Whereas You’re Sleeping. It’s all going properly till they accompany two firefighters on a name to an area house constructing, the place one is attacked and bitten by an aggressive older lady. Once they discover they will’t take away the injured as a consequence of a quarantine, others quickly fall unwell and assault, leaving the survivors fleeing and preventing for his or her lives.

The phrase “gamechanger” isn’t one to be thrown round flippantly, however [Rec] is each bit deserving of the phrase because it utterly altered the principles of outbreak horror and the zombie subgenre. To elaborate additional can be a spoiler, however suffice it to say that the background of the supply an infection isn’t one which’s simply predictable. Plaza and Balagueró ship a tightly wound, nail-biting thriller that brings the horror in each sense, proper as much as its terrifying conclusion.

[REC] 2


Choosing up instantly the place the primary movie leaves off, [Rec] 2 noticed Plaza and Balagueró reteaming to increase this creepy universe in an exciting means. The core group of characters this sequel facilities on is Dr. Owen, a Ministry of Well being consultant, and a GEO staff armed and despatched into the quarantined condominium to research. There’s additionally a trio of curious teenagers who determine to sneak previous police and quarantine officers to seek out an underground entrance into the condominium, bringing the daddy of Jennifer (the contaminated woman from the primary movie) with them. Some characters show to have hidden motives, whereas many of the others come to remorse ever stepping foot into the constructing within the first place.

Claustrophobic and full of well-executed leap scares, you get a sense that long-time pals Plaza and Balagueró have been having a ball creating environment and spooky set items. For all of the thriller within the first movie, this sequel explains the fascinating mythology behind the zombie-like outbreak in spades. In different phrases, this sequel feels extra like the opposite complementary half to its predecessor.

Sleep Tight

The job of helming [Rec] three: Genesis fell solely on the shoulders of Plaza, and that’s as a result of Balagueró was busy directing one of the few movies to really get underneath my pores and skin; Sleep Tight. Buying and selling bodily horror for psychological, Sleep Tight follows perpetual pessimist Cesar (Luis Tosar), a concierge at an house constructing who seeks to make everybody round him as depressing as he’s. However new tenant Clara (Marta Etura) is unflappable in her happiness, driving Cesar to demented lengths to interrupt her spirit. Whereas Clara is quick asleep within the seeming safety of her personal condo, she’s oblivious that Cesar is often mendacity in wait beneath her mattress so he can tamper together with her issues, her life, whereas she’s asleep.

Balagueró takes every part he’s discovered in constructing worry and pours it into this deeply unsettling twist on a house invasion movie, with the viewer pressured to rise up shut and private with psychopathic Cesar by telling the story from his level of view, as his vendetta towards Clara will get darker and darker. Disturbing, uncomfortable, and a chilling grasp class in rigidity, Sleep Tight is Balagueró at his greatest.

[REC] four: Apocalypse

Plaza handed the director baton to Balagueró for this sequel, who helmed the ultimate entry within the in style [Rec] collection on his personal. Choosing up instantly after the occasions of the second movie, the Military sends in a particular process pressure staff to demolish the constructing. One officer hears Angela Vidal’s screams for assist, although, and saves her. Angela later wakes up on a ship out at sea, and shortly discovers the virus has adopted her. Granted, followers of [Rec] 2 know why that’s.

Right here’s the place I’ll catch some flack; this sequel isn’t horrible. It doesn’t attain the identical edge-of-your-seat highs as the primary two movies, nevertheless it does thematically tie every part collectively. It provides Angela a satisfying story arch, too, because the helpless damsel turned villain turned ass-kicking remaining woman. Additionally, Balagueró all the time stated in interviews that an important factor in making a discovered footage movie is to justify the existence of the digital camera’s utilization. If it doesn’t make sense for the digital camera to nonetheless be rolling, it’s going to take the viewers out of the story. He steadfastly holds to that rule by dropping the discovered footage facet and going conventional. I’ll additionally give him credit score for making some daring decisions within the general mythology, even when it doesn’t all work. Although [Rec] four: Apocalypse stands out as the weakest of the collection, it doesn’t imply a lot contemplating simply how nice the collection is as an entire.

Right here’s to hoping Balagueró retains discovering new methods to take advantage of our fears. Which movie is your favourite?

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