Stars: Iván Martín, Sonia Lázaro, Fernando Ustárroz and Óscar Villalobos
|This film was an official selection at Phoenix FearCon IV in Tempe in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.|
As the title of this film suggests, this particular John isn't going to be quite so brave. The inevitable John and Mary of the tales become Juan and Maria, who meet while the former is playing tag. He thinks she's playing too, but she's just trying to escape some creepy old guy. Fortunately she knows a hiding place of ill repute, a gloriously dilapidated house with a gloriously dilapidated gated courtyard, and she and Juan quickly take refuge there. Maria is clearly in charge here, not only because the character is dominant but because Sonia Lázaro is obviously a better actor than Iván Martín, who remains passive (fearful, I guess) throughout. 'In the tale you're always fearless,' she tells him, so off they go inside to hide out during the imminent storm. She dominates here too, counting its progress and passing the time by reciting a story her grandmother had written, a sort of legend called The Man of the Birds, which she keeps close to her even though she apparently knows the whole thing by heart.
I enjoyed Fearful John a lot, though less for the acting or the story and more for the tone that it manages to successfully set. The house is a beautiful wreck and what it holds is gloriously designed too. The speed at which the film unfolds helps to make it a hallucinatory experience, as does the storm which would turn it into a dancefloor with a different score. The music here isn't modern at all, but it's strong and dynamic and drives the piece on, at least until Maria takes over with her fairy tales. The way they're recounted as story but woven into the fabric of the film we're watching is capably done, right down to the design of the espantapájaros who provides the nightmarish image with which we leave the picture. By the way, I chose to use the Spanish word there partly because it's such a glorious thing and partly because you deserve to experience it yourself without knowing what it means. Just don't forget to breathe, as the eleven minutes pass in fairy tale time.
Fearful John can be watched for free at Vimeo or YouTube.