Thoughts On: The Hidden Face (La Cara Oculta, 2011)
Made by Andrés Baiz, this is the Colombian film of the series.
The Hidden Face is an immense movie, and one of the most surprisingly smart horror films I’ve seen in a quite a long time. If you have not seen this film, I urge you to see it; it looks beautiful, it understands the tropes of its genre and how to avoid them, the direction is solid and so are the performances and the script. Without knowing any more than this, go find this movie and watch it. That said, let’s delve into some…
Beyond the technical achievements of this movie is the brilliant script. Starting out as an average horror movie, this seems to be about an evil, predacious man/boyfriend: our main character, Andrán. We then quickly assume that he is hiding something – someone – and that some malevolent fate lies before his new girlfriend, Fabiana. However, with the turn of the second act we get the reveal that, assuming Andrián is cheating on her, his old girlfriend, Belén, decided to play a prank on him that goes wrong – she gets trapped in a safe room that she thought she’d be able to spy on him from as he realises that she has ‘left’. This is where she stays as this new relationship eventually begins. And with this, Andrián seems relatively innocent to the first act in which we assumed he was hiding something. As this plot line develops, it is then Belén who becomes the one in the wrong; it is her own sly attempt towards revenge that backfires on her. Sympathising somewhat with Andrián and Fabiana, this story then seems to be about silence and deception as poisons in a relationship, both when people lie and hide the truth (meaning that Belén and Andrián are at fault). Whilst this sentiment remains throughout the second act, by the third, and by the time that Fabiana finds and then refuses to release Belén, there is a shift. Initially, I didn’t like this twist as it seemed melodramatic. However, this radical, even melodramatic, choice is an extension of the ongoing commentary on deception and lies – which are all connected to selfish, destructive ideals.
With everyone then having a ‘hidden face’ – a side of their being that they do not show to those in this ghostly love triangle – there seems to be an inevitable, oncoming collapse. We get this with the implication that, by the end, and with Fabiana now trapped in place of Belén, the relationship between all three of these characters must be in irreconcilable catastrophe. If Andrián does manage to find and free Fabiana, how will their relationship go on? If he doesn’t find her, will he believe he has, again, been abandoned – despite breaking all ties to the girl he was flirting with? How will Fabiana, much like Belén, be able to live with herself knowing she made such a terrible mistake that entirely decimated her relationship?
The only way that these characters could emerge from their ‘closets’ without confronting this catastrophe is with a lie. In such, Belén may deceive herself in thinking that she did the right thing by pranking her boyfriend – assuming that he wouldn’t change (even though he did) – and that it was simply unfortunate that she got trapped. Fabiana may deceive Andrián if and when he frees her by claiming innocence and suggesting that she accidentally tapped herself in the safe room. And Andrián may also deceive himself by assuming that he is the innocent party in all of this (also by ignoring the clue that Belén was trapped). After all, it is the safe room that seemingly represents the mind-set of suspicion, distrust and cynicism that Belén entered and got trapped in to see her worst nightmares come to life. And this, too, may be what Fabiana has got herself stuck in too with the ending. So, ultimately, this movie is about the construction of that prison of suspicion, distrust and cynicism, one that has mirrors that reflect all that you, through projecting your worst nightmares, will want to see. By the end, it is then still Andrián that is the malicious boyfriend; whilst he didn’t chop his girlfriend up and hide her in the walls, he certainly left her for dead behind them.
However, whilst this movie does hold Andrián as the bad guy, the catalyst for everything that goes awry in this movie is deception, is the ‘hidden face’. Without this, the traps that lay before each character in this narrative could have never snapped shut. So, with that said, I’ll leave things with you. Have you seen The Hidden Face? What are you thoughts?
Farewell, My Concubine – Fate & The Free Willing
The Grand Marriage – Grand-Marriage-Zilla?
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