09th Oct2020

Grimmfest 2020: ‘Ropes’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Paula del Río, Miguel Ángel Jenner, Jordi Aguilar, Ana Terrasa, Irene Terrasa | Written by Yako Blesa, José Luis Montesinos | Directed by José Luis Montesinos

There has been a handful of horror movies with paraplegic characters featuring in main roles. From Franklin in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to Marty in the Stephen King story Silver Bullet, to the more recent Nica in 2013’s Curse of Chucky. The use of these characters has been mixed but in Jose Luis Montesinos’ feature film debut Ropes he puts the paraplegic character front and centre, in a new and interesting way.

We see Elena after a recent car crash which has left her in a wheelchair and struggling with life on many levels. Be it the car crash itself, the loss that occurred from it, her relationship with her father since or how she is coping with being in a wheelchair. All of these things together has affected her greatly. On top of that, she ends up being stuck in a house with a rabid but extremely clever and trained dog. Things aren’t looking great for her.

Thankfully Ropes is a very well thought out movie, with a script that continuously makes sense when it could have easily gotten very silly. The director instead goes for a more realistic and serious film that like the best horror movies (including a host of recent ones) hits some emotional highs.

I loved the set-up of everything in Ropes. It doesn’t take too long to understand everything you need to know but all this is very important. We see a house that is set-up for the dog to be able to use almost as much as the daughter. But we also see that she isn’t used to her disability yet. She is still working out how she can do things and she also has a wheelchair with a low running battery. All the problems that she comes up against are ones she knows she could solve if she was still able-bodied, making things even more frustrating.

The character’s history, situation, and disability all together make her extremely sympathetic. You will 100% want her to win this battle. You will shout in pain at the same moments she does, you will feel all her anger and be desperate for her to quickly work things out. Animal lovers may not be so thrilled at some of the happenings in Ropes but once again this is handled extremely well. Possibly a little bit more time could have been spent on the relationship between Elena and her dog but this is a minor complaint because we soon understand how close they are and how Elena doesn’t want any harm to come of her dog (or her ferret). Only when it comes down to life or death of herself and knowing her dog is rabid, she realises something has to be done.

Horror hasn’t always got it right when featuring disabilities in its movies but Ropes creates an intriguing and fresh idea at showing how a new wheelchair user might struggle to come to terms with it. It’s a sympathetic and honest look at disability and it’s also a highly tense and creative horror movie.

**** 4/5

Ropes screened as part of this years Grimmfest virtual festival today, October 9th.

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