This time out, it’s an honest-to-goodness Mexican horror film that makes it’s way to your Favorite Catgirl’s DVD player… 2007’s “Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo” , remake of 1968’s classic Gothic styled ghost story of the same name. Eerie ghostly hauntings… a school filled with troubled girls… hints at forbidden lesbian love… and tragic mysterious death sparking horrific revenge from beyond the grave…. Hmmmm? Certainly sounds like Neko’s kind of movie!!
Naturally, there’s a quick synopsis to be had, and it goes like this: “Claudia is a troubled teen confined in a very strict and peculiar rehab center run by renowned psychiatrist, Director Alquicira. Along with the other girls who have experienced similar problems, Claudia is forced to confront her own horrible visions of Andrea, a beautiful patient who seemingly committed suicide a year ago. Another patient Josefina, and the school’s doctor Lucia -the right arm of Director Alquicira- seem to know the truth behind the bizarre return of Andrea, but even they are disturbed by the supernatural events that take place when an eerie wind starts to blow….”
Been a while since Neko went “south of the border” in search of her horror movie fix, but the Trailer definitely looks promising. As I’m always game for creepy foreign thrills and chills, it didn’t take much to convince me that I needed to add this one to my collection. One quick Internet search later and an English friendly subtitled copy was mine for the watching. So…. after all that work, was it really worth my efforts to track it down?
Well, of course the best way to find all that out is to “Read On” o’ Gentle Visitor and find out for yourself!
Our story doesn’t waste a lot of time, starting with a quick flash of a pair of dangling feet in a lonely deserted room and an unknown figure making a hasty exit from the crime scene before dissolving to our title sequence…. but wait!! Now we’re on a busy highway overpass where our main heroine, Claudia (played by Martha Higareda) is planning to throw herself to a messy death in the traffic below only to be grabbed at the last minute by some ambulance crew and carted away to the hospital under heavy sedation. It’s an abrupt switch… and somewhat unneeded… giving us an example of the somewhat jagged editing style this film exhibits throughout…. not a good sign of things to come.
Anyway… at the hospital we find out that poor troubled Claudia is anorexic as well as suicidal. Just what her problems are that have driven her to suicide are never explained… Not even when she dramatically tries it again at the hospital before being sedated… yet again… by her attending physician. Mostly it appears, the entire thing is basically a plot contrivance to get her committed into the “tender” care of Dr. Alquicira (played by Veronica Langer) at her clinic for troubled young girls in one of those gorgeous estates located waaaay out in the middle of nowhere. That’s where our story really tries to get off the ground.
Surprisingly… given her rather serious desire to kill herself at the drop of a hat… they ship Claudia off to the clinic by herself, and she arrives in that suitably Gothic fashion that all tragic heroines seem to do where she is quickly introduced to the students and staff of her new “temporary” home. They’re a mixed bunch… there’s the serious and stern Dr. Alquicira herself, and the stereotypical character of the clinic’s dedicated and caring medical doctor, Dr. Lucia (played by Mónica Dionne) as well as a number of maids and housekeepers, and of course her fellow patients. It’s a small group… with all the usual stock characters in place…. from odd, timid, introverted Josefina (played by Danny Perea), to “bad girl” Jessica (played by María Fernanda Malo) as well as a few other relatively interchangeable and unremarkable characters.
You’d think that among this group of misfits and unhappy girls, Claudia would eventually find at least one friend and confidant…. (and given the rather exploitative undercurrents of such stories, probably a hint of a “forbidden” lesbian infatuation and romance as well) but that never really gells here. The interaction between the characters is not well thought out and mostly comes across rather blandly. Without that… there’s no attempt to do any sort of actual back-story to properly introduce our ghost, Andrea at all.
Andrea, it seems, still haunts the clinic since her “suicide” the year before…. (by hanging we assume, if we’re to make any sense of that cryptic scene at the beginning of out film) but strangely enough, only Claudia seems able to catch a glimpse of her here and there as she moves about the suitably creepy grounds of the clinic. Josefina knows something about it… making odd statements like “she’s still here” and showing signs of bloody scratches on her thighs, which could be from some sort of nightly ghostly torture or just the evidence of self mutilation by a troubled young girl. It’s the lack of any of the really cool haunting stuff that makes this all seem so…. lacking… in the story department.
That’s a shame really… as there is quite a bit of potential here for the sort of classic horror story I’ve seen the Koreans, Japanese, and Indonesians pull off again and again. By now, even Carolyn had noticed that… asking me if this wasn’t awfully close to some of those movies she’s watched with me before. The problem here is one of the filmmakers being afraid to cut loose and go all the way with the ideas… some fairly disturbing perhaps, for a presumably mostly Catholic Mexican audience to handle. Eventually we do find out that this all revolves around the theme of forbidden lesbian desire (Ahhh… Doesn’t it always… Hehehehe!!) and accidental murder. So… then we get our gory ghostly revenge story?
Nope… We get an odd left hand turn as poor Claudia dies about 50 minutes into our story, falling from the rotting top of the mysterious locked tower where Andrea committed suicide. Huh!? What the heck? The main character is really dead!?! Yep… as dead as the proverbial doornail. Although the good doctor Alquicira decides to hush that up and prepare to close the clinic “temporarily” telling the girls that Claudia is merely hurt badly but recovering nicely in the infirmary. Don’t worry though…. she’ll be up and about again as soon as the girls make the mistake of doing the whole Ouija board thing to summon up the spirit of Andrea, who takes the opportunity to possess Claudia’s body and take her revenge to a more physical level.
With not a lot of movie left, you get the notion that it’s either going to have to be fairly quick and bloody to rack up the expected body count or just stick to the idea of getting even with the person who actually killed her and faked the suicide. Given how tame this film has been till now, you just know it’s going to go the latter route. Darn…..
Here’s where Neko has to give you her “Spoiler Warning” before continuing, just in case you feel like giving this one a look see yourself sometime. We get to find out that, yes…. there was a lesbian affair going on between pretty young Andrea and Dr. Lucia… one that finally got figured out by Josefina who spilled it all to Director Alquicira. Rather than stepping in to put a stop to those “forbidden” shenanigans, she sneaks along to discover one of their secret trysts at the old tower and after Dr Lucia leaves, tries to force herself on Andrea for a little taste of that “forbidden fruit” too. Andrea isn’t about to comply, and dies after a fight with Dr. Alquicira ends with a fatal fall down the tower stairs. One staged suicide scene later and the incident is promptly swept under the rug, with Dr. Lucia left feeling she somehow failed a troubled girl and drove her to her unnecessary death by her own complicity in that sinful affair.
By now… the ghost has decided to end this all. Raising the freakish wind of the title, she scares the girls silly, and lures Dr. Alquicira to the tower where it’s a nasty death by hanging to finally make things right once more.
This is where the film is at it’s best… although you have to put up with a lot of fairly boring and lame stuff to get here. I’m thinking the filmmakers could have saved themselves a lot of grief had they paid a bit more attention to other more worthy attempts at this sort of story like the “Whispering Corridors” series of films or even some of the “Tomie” movies which did these ideas sooo, sooo much better. Drawing some inspiration from these definitely couldn’t have hurt this one at all…. Supposedly this movie is based on an earlier Mexican film by the same title made back in 1968…. and which is reputed to be a bit of a classic. If it is, Neko’s hoping that earlier version was more scary, because here, the chills are few and far between.
Ahhhh…. and perhaps the silliest notion of the whole film is saved for last. Remember Claudia? The dead girl who you figured was our heroine right up until she dies? Well… apparently she is the heroine after all. Once Dr. Alquicira meets her well deserved demise, the spirit of Andrea departs for wherever dead lesbian schoolgirls go in stories like this and Claudia “gets better”. Huh? Ummm… errr…. “gets better”? Yep… seems she was dead… but now she’s not. She’s all better and most definitely “not dead”. What a stupid ending….. As our film finishes, she and the other girls are all driven away by bus to a new… hopefully better… life while Dr. Lucia stays behind having decided to join her dead beloved Andrea in suicide. Roll those credits…… Thank goodness.
Sigh…. Your favorite Catgirl wanted to like this one. Honestly…. I really did…. But somehow it just doesn’t measure up to all the films it soooo badly wants to be like. I can only give this version of “Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo” a paltry 2 “Meows” out of 5. It’s a valiant effort, with some fine acting by Martha Higareda who manages to pass herself off as the anorexic teenager Claudia quite convincingly despite being a very mature actress of 24 at the time it was made. Still…. all the fine acting in the world is of no use if you haven’t got a decent script to work with and unfortunately that’s the case here. The DVD itself is adequate… with an anamorphic wide-screen format (this despite the cover’s assertion that it was 4:3 full screen… a nice surprise) and good separate English subtitles all for about 10$ US most places.
Oh well…. at least it’s got me interested enough to try to hunt down the original film and see if indeed it does merit the reputation of “classic horror”. Anyway… I leave you as always with the Trailer… which I promise was better in most ways than the entire film itself…. Enjoy!