14th Aug2013

‘For Elisa’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ana Turpin, Ona Casamiquela, Luisa Gavasa, Jesus Caba, Sheila Ponce | Written and Directed by Juanra Fernandez


Desperate to earn some money student Ana answers a job advert asking for occasional nanny duties. Arriving at apartment 3B in the town square for the job interview, things couldn’t have gone better either… tea, biscuits, nursery rhymes and a healthy hourly rate. But before long Ana realises she has entered a terrifying dark world of obsession and misery. Kept prisoner in a creepy residence, she must try and overcome the deranged diva Diamantina and her strange daughter Elisa to prevent herself from becoming just another possession in the house full of antique toys.

Let’s get this straight, at the outset it would seem that For Elisa is set to share a lot in common with Ti West’s well-regarded slow-burning horror House of the Devil – which itself borrowed a lot from the films of the 70s and 80s. But writer/director Juanra Fernandez quickly flips the script and instead we get a film akin in tone to Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Livid – sharing a similar mise-en-scene and eerie atmosphere – however with no real story to speak of beyond “girl gets job at creepy house, shit happens”. And whilst For Elisa is reminiscent of the giallo of the late 60s and early 70s, it feels much more like one of the many cheap Euro cash-ins that filled video stores back in the day.

Sadly the film quickly descends into a series of fights and screaming matches between its two leads, Ana and Elisa, before heading directly into Misery territory – at which point the audience will be well past beyond caring what happens to Ana and be more likely caring how long the film has left to go… Thankfully by the time you realise the film is going nowhere it will be almost over given its brief 74 minute running time!

A derivative exercise in Spanish film making, For Elisa can be seen as a morbid form of payback for the below-par remake of the classic Who Can Kill a Child? After all, if Americans can rip-off Spanish cinema, why can’t Spanish cinema do the reverse?

* 1/5


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