Sins of the Father – Rediscovering ‘Los Sin Nombre’ (Spain 1999 – 102 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - July 07, 2014
Sins of the Father – Rediscovering ‘Los Sin Nombre’ (Spain 1999 – 102 mins)

Also known as ‘The Nameless’, the gripping 1999 Spanish horror ‘Los Sin Nombre’, is a dark and disturbing tale of family bereavement and sacrificial cults. It also features one of the most jaw-dropping final scenes of any movie I’ve seen.

Five years after her missing daughter’s mutilated body was found, her mother Claudia (Emma Vilarasau), receives a strange phone call from someone claiming to be Ángela, her dead daughter. The voice is asking for help, saying that “they” are going to kill her if Claudia doesn’t rescue her. Other clues begin turning up suggesting that Ángela is indeed still alive. With the help of a retired cop; Massera (Karra Elejalde), Claudia pieces together the clues that lead her to an old abandoned building which houses a sect called ‘Los Sin Nombre’, a cult that explores the depths of pure evil.

‘Los Sin Nombre’ is based on the macabre 1981 novel ‘The Nameless’, by British author Ramsey Campbell. Genre writer Campbell also wrote the excellent 2001 novel ‘Pact of the Fathers’, which was made into a very good 2002 movie; ‘Second Name’, again in Spain but in English language this time.

The downbeat ending was a bit unexpected, but thankfully this isn’t Hollywood, and they kept it in line with the rest of the story. My first viewing left me speechless at the end which, while it doesn’t resort to bloody shocks, is emotionally powerful and can leave you rather drained.

As the bereaved Claudia, noted Spanish actress Emma Vilarasau convincingly displays the right amount of anguish and desperation of a distraught mother, while Karra Elejalde is also good as the world-weary cop; Massera. Jessica Del Pozo, in her only role to date, also impresses in her one memorable scene, at the films devastating climax. Writer-director Jaume Balagueró directs with great style, deploying some jump-inducing subliminal shots which catch you off-guard, adding to the tension. Balagueró went on to make the creepy Anna Paquin horror ‘Darkness’ (‘02), and the acclaimed [REC] (’07) and its 2009 sequel [REC 2].

The superb cinematography is by the award-winning Xavi Giménez’s, and is absolutely stunning. He employs a pallet of cold blues and greys in creating a gloomy, foreboding atmosphere. Giménez went on to photograph Balagueró’s ‘Darkness’ (’02), and Brad Anderson’s under-rated Hitchcockian thriller ‘Transsiberian’ (’08).

‘Los Sin Nombre’ is a movie that has divided many people, but I think it’s a beautifully filmed mystery that is not afraid to go into dark territory. Do not watch the movie dubbed however, it needs to be viewed in its original Spanish language to appreciate the full impact of its conclusion.

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