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Mas Negro Que La Noche (2014)
DVD Released: 1/27/2014
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/19/2015
I wouldn't call myself a connoisseur of foreign films, but I do like to check them out whenever I can, and I have a small list of non-English language movies that I adore. I especially like to check out horror films from other countries to see how scary subjects are tackled around the world. When I think about it, I can't say that I've seen many horror (or otherwise) movies from Mexico. There are probably a few, but the only one which comes to mind is Guillermo del Toro's 1993 film Cronos. That is one of the reasons why I was interested in seeing Mas Negro Que La Noche, as it would give me a chance to add another Mexican movie to my list. Having seen it, I may lay off Mexican movies for a while.
As Mas Negro Que La Noche (which translates as "Much Darker Than the Night") opens, Greta (Zuria Vega) learns that her Aunt Ofelia (Lucia Guilmain) has died and that she's inherited her wealthy Aunt's house and her cat, Becker. Following the reading of the will, Greta moves into the large house, along with her friends, Pilar (Erendira Ibarra), Maria (Adriana Louvier), and Vicky (Ona Casamiquela). The house is very gothic and filled with strange decorations, so the girls aren't very comfortable, but they decide to stay. The house is overseen by Evangelina (Margarita Sanz), the maid who looked after Greta and now serves Greta. The girls haven't been there long when they begin to hear strange noises in the house and they each have nightmares. Has the odd place given them the creeps, or is something more sinister at work?
This is one of those reviews where I feel that I must begin with a compliment. The production design on Mas Negro Que La Noche is very impressive. The sets in the house look great, as they are large, yet quite detailed. The bedrooms are filled with dusty knick-knacks which give the movie an air of authenticity. The large foyer looks good and the painting of Ofelia which dominates it is undeniably creepy. I do have to question the odd indoor pool which is surrounded by leaves, but otherwise, this looks like the kind of gothic place where a lot of scary things could happen.
Instead, the movie makes the bold choice of having very little happen. Yes, Mas Negro Que La Noche is a major snooze-fest from beginning to end and it's sometimes stupifying how the movie has no sense of direction. The movie is 110-minutes long, but nothing really happens until an hour and a half into the film, and I think that most viewers will have checked out by then. As noted above, this certainly looks like a horror movie, but Writer/Director Henry Bedwell, who adapted this movie from an earlier 1975 version of the movie (which I haven't seen, but it's got to be better than this), seems very hesitant to commit to the genre, so we get some very brief glimpses of supposedly spooky things during the first two acts, but the movie doesn't come within a mile of being the least bit creepy.
It doesn't help that, from the outset, the story makes little sense (unless I totally missed something in the translation). We see Greta's friends accompany her to the house, which makes sense. But, then, they all move in, and we are never told why. Don't they have jobs or lives that they want to get back to? At times, the movie has more dramatic elements than horror, as the story insists that we know that Vicky is fooling around with Greta's boyfriend. Greta has flashbacks to time she spent with Ofelia as a child, and we see an event from Ofelia's past, but they never add up. Furthermore, Greta often sees a young girl and the movie assumes that we know what is happening. Is Greta psychic? These moments make the movie feel like a sequel where we are supposed to be up to speed. The finale doesn't hold many answers, as what appears to be a ghost story turns into a possession film. And then we have the cat which is named after a Ted Danson TV show. Greta is told that looking after it is a condition of the will, but then the seemingly conscientious girl does little with it. The cat appears to be integral to the plot, but it only shows up every once in a while.
I had hoped that Mas Negro Que La Noche would be a South-of-the-border take on the kind of gothic ghost story that we don't see nearly enough of anymore. Instead, we get a truly bizarre movie which is content to simply show the four main actresses run up and down the halls while nothing else happens. And if they live in that big house, why do they all eat in a kitchen which looks like it's in a small apartment. Boring and confounding, Mas Negro Que La Noche has allowed me to put a check mark in my "Mexican Horror Movie" box...and that's about it.
Mas Negro Que La Noche tells us that a rave is the best way to mourn a dead Aunt on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good for a DVD, and the image has a nice crispness to it. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The English subtitles are easy to read. The surround sound effects work fairly well, especially during the flashback sequences. The party and the "shock" scenes deliver pretty good subwoofer effects. The stereo effects are also effective.
The Mas Negro Que La Noche DVD contains no special features.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long