Vampire Owl: We do not wander through the wasteland anymore.
Vampire Bat: I don’t see why someone would even try to go through that area.
Vampire Owl: We used to consider them as cricket grounds.
Vampire Bat: Why would someone play cricket in that area where things are affected too much by dark and chaotic magic?
Vampire Owl: Well, nobody knows what is to happen in the next ball. It is fun.
Vampire Bat: Dude, the stumps can come up and hit the ball for a sixer.
Vampire Owl: Yes, it means that the match is highly unpredictable.
Vampire Bat: Now, you sound like someone who would do match-fixing.
Vampire Owl: It would have been a good idea if there was an audience.
Vampire Bat: We should have just locked that area. The area has even the presence of some necromancers.
[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of Munnar tea].
What is the movie about? :: Nineteenth century had seen many wars which had left Spain struggling, and people really wished to stay away from all the chaos and destruction which the so called civilized world had brought. It had not yet seen the two disastrous world wars, but Spain already had enough with its internal conflicts following the earlier loss of colonies over the course of time, thus losing its advantage over the other European countries rather early in comparison. Diego’s (Asier Flores) family is one of those groups which live a lonely life in the middle of nowhere, an area which can be best known as the wasteland. His mother, Lucia (Inma Cuesta), is kind and loving towards him, while his father, Salvador (Roberto Alamo), is a very strict man. He reminds them that beyond a border which has been set by him, there is only war, and people only die beyond that, with no hope for any possible future. According to him, death and destruction is natural out there, and the boy needs to be a man quick enough.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The family of three continues to have no contact with anyone around. Salvador feels that the boy hasn’t matured enough, and there is not enough time now. He tells the boy a story about beast which is more evil than any other creature in the whole world – it preys on the most vulnerable people, feeding on their fear. When the beast finds a victim, it uses the fear of the person to get stronger using its weakness. Lucia takes the boy away before he has to hear anything more, but it is already rooted in the mind of Diego. Soon enough, they find a badly injured man in the boat (Víctor Benjumea) – the man seems to have run out of bullets, and is seemingly very close to death. This once again asserts the fact that there are only people who wants to hurt others of their kind, and the beast is also very strong, feeding more on the fear of such evil men and women. When the man wakes up with his wounds somewhat healed, he is seen pointing the gun at Lucia and Diego. For the family, fighting the beast might be easier than fighting the evil humans.
The defence of The Wasteland :: The movie does gain advantage from the grand setting in the middle of nowhere, as we have the perfect world without hope, but with the presence of fear at all times. There are some fine visuals to support the horror and the sound effects do more, as the movie does hold on to ambiguity. The darkness and haunting feel seems to stay even after the film ends. The focus is indeed on the fear, and its manifestation is not the one that the film concentrates on. The movie gains further with its performances, as Inma Cuesta is one talented actress, who has this movie going through what runs within her mind as much as what is outside. The shades of fear and madness that she shows here are nothing less than brilliant, as she has to elevate this movie with her expressions and feelings. Asier Flores, the child actor also comes up with a performance to remember, as he always has a lot more to do that a regular kind even in a horror-filled atmosphere of chaos and hopelessness. Roberto Alamo’s comparatively shorter stay is also effective, and sets things going. The background of the world only scores more.
The claws of flaw :: The Wasteland could have been more direct with its idea, and should have been less complex with its horror and story which is often not that clear for everyone. With an atmosphere like this, it could have been something else – a thing of terror like no other, but that opportunity is not taken despite the presence of the strong premise. It could have shaped its beast better, and should have come up with some fine explanations rather than providing random stories which we are not sure about. It is as if there is not real story here, and there so many monotonous moments around here, with nothing much happening around. We know that there could be chaos, destruction and even death, but still the movie goes on so slowly after establishing the whole thing in the beginning. The feeling of being dragged is not appropriate for a movie like this, which is too short, and yet wastes time in between. The whole setting feels more post-apocalyptic than anything else, and there were so many paths which this movie could have chosen for sure. The feeling of terror could have felt more real too.
Significance of the Title :: We are always attracted to the title, because this particular poem by TS Eliot is something which almost every student of MA English Language and Literature has studied in one of those semesters. As one of the most representative of the modernist poetry works, it is also the work is not that easy to understand. It uses the Arthurian legends of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King along with allusions from both the West and East, the secular as well as religious literature. It basically dealt with the disillusionment of a generation which had to live through the First World War, even though the Second World War was yet to come. The disintegration of civilization and the loss of hope were evident in the work which was divided into five sections which saw different deviations without any warning. But despair was clearly evident there. The film, with its location in the middle of nowhere, and with the main characters, show another situation of hopelessness and despair in a world which is nothing but another wasteland, during the wars in Spain.
How it finishes :: The movie is nicely set in the nineteenth century, seemingly showing the struggles during the wats of the time, long before the Spanish Civil War and the two World Wars which couldn’t have Spain participating directly in it. The century had France led by Napoleon coming in for an invasion, while the wars for independence were many in the Americas, including Bolivian War of Independence, Mexican War of Independence, Argentine War of Independence, Chilean War of Independence, Peruvian War of Independence, Venezuelan War of Independence, Cuban War of Independence, Philippine Revolution and many others. It is the reminder of a world of chaos which the war can bring, and how it can tear down a family, without even affecting it directly from the looks of it. With one fine setting and atmosphere, the movie makes sure that the feeling is passed on well, with a certain amount of horror which might be beyond war. It could have been made more direct and more terrifying, but this works with a certain amount of quality, deviating from the usual Annabelle, The Conjuring, The Nun, The Curse of La Llorna, Insidious, Sinister kind of horror.
Release date: 6th January 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: David Casademunt
Starring: Inma Cuesta, Roberto Alamo, Asier Flores, Alejandra Howard, Víctor Benjumea
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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.