“Más negro que la noche” (2014) – DVD Review

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Detail from Theatrical Poster for MAS NEGRO DE LA NOCHE (2014) — image source: PlusBits MX

Director: Henry Bedwell

Starring: Zuria Vega, Adriana Louvier, Eréndira Ibarra, José María Torre, Miguel Rodarte

This 2014 horror/mystery/thriller from writer-director Henry Bedwell is a remake (or “adaptation,” according to IMDb) of a 1975 film, written and directed by Carlos Enrique Taboada. Both are in Spanish (with English subtitles available). The title, “Más negro que la noche” (“Darker Than the Night”), is taken from a line delivered at the 2014 movie’s end by the lead character, Greta (Vega), about a particularly evil black cat (shown above) named Becker, who plays a key role in the story.

At this point, some readers will groan. thinking that if a cat is one of the more important features of the story-line, how good can the movie be? It turns out that the cat is not the problem. I have not seen the original 1975 version, which currently has a 7.1 out of 10 star rating on IMDb and is “widely considered as one of the most important Mexican horror films ever made,” according to Eric Ortiz Garcia of twitchfilm. However, I have seen (via Netflix DVD) the 2014 offering. I can understand why it carries a much lower (4.3 stars) user rating on IMDb.

SUMMARY

Greta, a young woman who is engaged to Pedro (Torre), learns that her eccentric, wealthy aunt Ofelia has died, leaving a large estate to her. Besides money, she has inherited a creepy old mansion, where the aunt lived with her equally creepy old housekeeper, Evangelina (Margarita Sanz). The catch is that she has to care for both the mansion and her aunt’s cat, Becker.

This does not bother Greta because she lived there with her parents and sister (who are now deceased) when she was a child. She moves in with her best friend Pilar (Ibarra) and two other friends, Maria (Louvier) and Vicky (Ona Casamiquela). Her fiance, who is Pilar’s brother, does not move in, but hangs around the place a lot.

Everybody except Greta is creeped out by living in the house. The four women start feeling like they are not “themselves” anymore. Greta starts having recurring, severe headaches, as well as flashbacks and nightmares about horrific events that occurred in the house. Then Becker kills Maria’s pet ferret.

In an act of revenge, Maria takes an opportunity provided by the distraction of a wild housewarming party to drown Becker in the mansion’s swimming pool. Meanwhile, Pedro and Greta have an argument about Greta’s changed personality (as well as her loss in interest in sex with Pedro). After Greta kicks Pedro out of the house, he throws his drink on Aunt Ofelia’s portrait, which is hanging in the entrance hall. Before leaving, he takes the opportunity to have sex in his car with Vicky, who’s been hitting on him at the party.

Due to the mansion’s sinister history (which will be revealed ever so slowly over the remainder of the film), these unfortunate actions unleash a supernatural wave of revenge on all of the young people except Greta. Did I mention that Greta looks “just like” her aunt? You get the picture . . . .

COMMENTARY

  • Let’s dispense early with the observation that Greta and her three female housemates are all young hotties. According to Garcia, this is one element that carries over from the original — although the four are not as “charismatic” as those in the 1975 film.
  • Another distinction that the movie can claim is that it is the first Mexican 3-D horror movie (according to Wikipedia).
  • To be fair, the film does create a classic haunted-house ambience with creepy production design.
  • However, the fairly straightforward plot takes forever to play out. This movie is slow, slow, slow.
  • To cover up the obvious nature of the story-line, Bedwell apparently decided to parody aspects of the original movie. However, he still tries to go for scares at the same time. An example of this is the repeated, sudden appearances of Evangelina, which Greta and her friends mock.
  • With the exception of Evangelina, the characters are rather one-dimensional caricatures — particularly the young, bored, “artistic” slackers, whose dialogue is a mixture of jaded cliches and cursing.
  • There are indications that Pilar is a lesbian who has a huge crush on her best friend Greta, but the film doesn’t go anywhere with this potential subplot.
  • This is yet another horror movie that tries to use a too-loud musical score to amp up its intended scares. As in other films, it doesn’t work here.

OVERALL RATING

It’s probably a better call to watch the 1975 original than to see this muddled attempt at a remake.