Here I am, ending this year’s madness with the final slate of horror films from all over the world. As always, we’re following Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness for recommendations on films to watch, this time he started the last of the series, the ‘of the Dead’ series helmed by George Romero. He didn’t start with ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968), weirdly, but he started with its first sequel ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1976), that I’ve seen and consider a masterpiece (you can see James Rolfe’s similar accolades here). As I’ve seen some of the films I’ve had to make some filling replacements, and since the last film reviewed was released in 2007, my list turned me to the last horror film from the list that I haven’t seen: ‘La maison Nucingen’ (2008), directed by Raúl Ruiz. What happened here? You can read my review of the film below.
The films of Raúl Ruiz are something completely out of this world, something that some of us can’t really explain, and it needs a real scholar mind for them to be fully comprehended due to the necesary cultural context and background that they need. How is it possible, then, that a film directed by the legendary Chilean director Raúl Ruiz was considered in the horror genre? Well, most of the films by this ecclectic and prolific director are indeed ghost films, films about people who can’t really stay dead, people who come back to life to haunt the living or just have a drink with them, the films of Ruiz are trascendental in the way that the world of the dead is almost as near as the hand that you have waiting in your bed, the dead and the living have the same physical presence in the movie, no makeup, no transparence, no nothing, they just are dead and you notice that they are (alongside the characters) when they either mention that they’ve died or they’ve been killed, we’ve seen their deaths, or simply because we see a bunch of blood coming out of them. It’s interesting how this common idea in the films of Ruiz is played and toyed around with a film that is much more related to death like this horror film. The manor may seem a bit scary, but it’s just the playfulness of Ruiz that goes through all the film, when we hear that inside the house one can’t speak nothing else but french, wether you know it or not, but outside you can speak any language you can.
The movie follows a famous writer who has gambled and won a big house in the Patagonia of Chile, filled with statues, paintings and an architecture that would give anyone the willies. The house is still populated by the original owners, and they don’t really care if people come here claiming that their place is rightfully of other people now, they pretend to stay in the most venomous way possible, and in some way our protagonist thinks that everything weird that is sorrounding him is a way of making him go away (much like in a haunted house), but it’s a quiet realization when he knows that he’s maybe habitating the same words of the novel he’s writing. Suddenly, besides all the blood and ghosts that we see in the corners of the house, lurking and watching every step the newcomers do, suddenly a vampire appears, a major character suddenly turns and eats the brain of another character, only to be followed by a scene in which the maid carries a brain and the original owner of the house put his finger on it, and then tastes it, saying he loves goat brain… and then all the ilussion is broken when our protagonist says that vampires don’t really exist in Chile, so the killer must be someone else, something else entirely. But all I’ve said isn’t even the main focus, the focus of the Ruiz film is the playfulness language, the way that the shots move around, revealing death in the corners or searching for it to not be found.
The greatness of this movie comes from the pure joy of seeing something as profound and playful as this played straight and not for the reference alone, as if it was just a select audience that was able to understand it all. I’m not supposing that I’m part of that audience, because I’m really dumb, but I see what he was aiming at, and I deem it fantastic, one of the most impressive Raúl Ruiz films using the tropes and the references to the modern and classic horror cinema, what a treat to hear that Ruiz was on the wave of new releases at this time. Gore people, gore is to be found here… and you can’t say that from every legendary director making movies nowadays.