Time for another spooky ghost story… this time from south of the border in sunny Mexico with a look at 2013’s crowdfunded independent horror film, “El Eco Del Miedo” aka “The Echo of Fear”. Mexican ghost stories? Sure… your Favorite Catgirl can roll with that. 🙂
The synopsis goes like this: “A young woman in the middle of an economic crisis, a little girl who is facing a new environment, and a loyal dog that will work as a link between both, all have to spend two nights in a big old house that is falling into ruin. Strange sounds at night and shadows accompanied with threatening echoing noises emerging from darkness are constant in the house. Will they be able to undergo the situation and solve the weird enigma that surrounds the presence that still inhabits the house?”
Creepy old house… pretty young woman waaaay over her head… boyfriend’s cute daughter from a previous marriage with a chip on her shoulder… and loyal dog to protect them both from whatever might seek to do them harm. Oooohhh!! And a haunted doll and vengeful ghostly woman in black lurking just out of sight. Yep, sounds like we got all the right ingredients for your standard horror romp. So… by goodness.. what are we waiting for o’ Gentle Visitors? Let’s all get to it shall we? 🙂
Crowdfunded independent Mexican horror? Yep… this wee lady is willing to try just about anything in her obsessive quest for more and more foreign horror movie goodies. So when this one popped up on my radar, it wasn’t long before I tracked down a Trailer for it and from what I could tell… low-budget or not… this one looked both scary and interesting. One DVD later and I’d find out for certain. 😉
Naturally… with such a tiny budget… a big cast wasn’t going to happen. I’ve seen this sort of thing before, and actually if it’s well written, a story can benefit from the “less is more” approach. Mind you, that usually means that a heck of a lot of the film hangs on a single main protagonist who will normally get the lion’s share of the screen time available. Have a good actor or actress and you are set… make a bad casting decision and you are sunk. So… who gets that unenviable task and daunting responsibility for this one? That would be Dutch actress Sarah Nichols as our heroine Andrea. Dutch? Really?…. Yep, but don’t worry, apparently being raised in Guadalajara, Mexico has given her perfect fluency in Spanish so she comes across as a credible Mexican local.
So our story… “Inspired by Real Events”… begins as our girl Andrea arrives at the creepy old mansion with her boyfriend’s dog and young daughter in tow. They’re supposed to wait for him there while he struggles to get his final paycheck from an employer to finance their new life together and join them in a few days. Honest… He keeps promising Andrea that: “It’ll just be tomorrow… the money’s almost mine, then I’m soooo there”. Ummmm yeah. This wee lady’s heard that old line before, and who knows? Maybe he’s actually gonna show up. Guess we’ll have to watch and find out.
So anyways. The house. It’s big and rambling and somewhat rundown… and yes… according to the helpful creepy gardener, it’s haunted by the spirit of a crazy old lady who died there. Ahhhh and there’s a story that there’s fortune of gold somewheres about too. Yep… isn’t there always? 😉
Andrea just hates this place. Hates that she’s been saddled with Michel… her boyfriend’s little girl from his previous marriage. The feeling seems mutual as our silent little waif seems pretty darn indifferent to her potential new stepmom too. Only the dog seems welcome companionship for either of them, a vibe which continues as being in the old house starts wearing on Andrea and weird ghostly stuff starts happening more and more frequently. Eventually Andrea comes to beleive the crazy old gardners stories… and the expected sort of ghostly antics pile one on another even as she slowly starts piecing together the tragic history of the old house and the “Woman in Black” who haunts it.
Now this one is a pretty short film… only 77 minutes long… so there really isn’t a lot of time to do too darn much of the “Scooby Doo” stuff, and unfortunently Andrea’s character as written is… ummmm… pretty darn whiny and unlikeable. I mean, the way she petulantly sulks about when she’s not doing the whole “ghost hunting” thing and her constant whiny phonecalls to boyfriend and his ex to basically nag at them to come and do something are indeed a grating and annoying element of our story. Your favorite Catgirl prefers her heroines to show a bit more spunk and pluck when t comes to this sort of stuff and that’s just not the case here.
However… all that stuff aside, you have to give “El Eco Del Miedo” some points for being a really well filmed movie. Cinematography… camera work… and the location all work extremely well for this crowdfunded shoestring budget that out filmakers must have had. It all looks great… and even if I don’t like the chracter of Andrea all that much, I have to admit Sarah Nichols does her best with the script she was given to invest the character with real feeling and reality. All the acting here is downright good… what little cast we have, and even though I twigged on the big “twist” plot element upon which our whole story hangs long before I was probably suppossed to, once it gets revealed it’s a satisfying wrap up for everything. So all in all, it’s 6 of one and a half a dozen of the other as to whether or not the director Sam Reyes pulled it off this time out. I’d tend to say yes… but then quiet old fashioned ghost stories without the crazy violent bloody gore of most modern films are this lady’s preferred cup of tea.
The Region 1 DVD is nice. Presented widesceen and letterboxed in the original Spanish language with excellent separate English subtitles for us gringos in the audience, you ought to be able to score a copy for right around 16-20$ US at most of the expected domestic DVD sources. I rate this one at a comfortable 3 “Meows” out of 5, mostly for being a very professionally done job on a tiny independant film budget. Try it o’ Gentle Visitors… you might like it.
We’ve got a Trailer, complete with English subtitles… enjoy the creepy hijinks!! 😉