‘I don’t like hide and seek, because you might not find me’.
The producers of Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and The Orphanage (2007) have joined forces with short film director Gabe Ibáñez to create the psychological thriller Hierro. With the aforementioned releases and the brilliant REC (2007), Spanish film makers are firmly established within the horror genre.
The success of these films has heightened the expectations for Hierro to be as scary, or rather as freaky as them. Although the film is very mysterious and eerie it is nowhere near as “scary” as something like REC. The film is crammed with symbolism and this is where the true mystery comes in to play. The director almost forces the audience to look out for pieces of symbolism and when you find yourself on the edge of your seat, he throws in a jump.
The story is engaging throughout and is capped off triumphantly with a dramatic and unpredictable plot twist. The film follows Maria (Elena Anaya) who has a fear of water, but this is only the tip of the iceberg as our hero is submerged in to what is sure to be every parent’s worst nightmare; the loss of a child. Elena’s performance is outstanding and it is not surprising that she picked up best actress at the Signet Film Festival in 2009.
Alejandro Martínez provides a master class in the art of cinematography with a variety of techniques. An example of these is the use of slow motion which emphasises the danger and chaos in the car crash scene. This is then contrasted with fast paced jump cuts that increase the tension. Another key element was the focus; it was very clever as it reinforces the traumatising and disorientated effect on Maria as she struggles to come to terms with the mysterious island El Hierro and its inhabitants.
A beautifully crafted, acted and written film is somewhat let down by its trailer, which set it up as something much scarier. Hierro is a brilliant psychological thriller that is sure to engage you in its mystery; 7/10.