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October 29, 2016

La culpa

by Franz Patrick


Culpa, La (2006)
★ / ★★★★

Gloria (Montse Mostaza), a nurse and a single mother, is very grateful to have been invited by her friend and co-worker, Ana (Nieve de Medina), a doctor, to live together temporarily. With the monthly expenses on top of her daughter’s school tuition, this favor is most welcome. In the meantime, Gloria will work as an aide in Ana’s home where most of downstairs is a clinic. While Ana is giving her friend a tour. Gloria claims to have heard a knock on one of the doors. Ana dismissed it almost immediately, almost defensively. It will not be the first time Gloria will be hearing strange noises.

Not scary enough to be a successful horror picture or curious enough to be a good mystery, “La culpa,” written by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador and Luis Murillo, does nothing but build and build until it is over. Imagine sitting through a joke that takes a while to get going without ever reaching a punchline. You feel cheated, like your time has been wasted.

I suppose it is sort of neat that the villain is not the person or thing we come to expect. There are a few potential people worthy of suspicion. Dr. Toress is absolutely one of them. Before giving Gloria a tour of the big house, Ana admits to her that she used to have an assistant, also a nurse, who got married and disappeared. What does she mean by “disappeared” exactly? Later, the doctor’s maid tells Gloria that Ana is a very lonely person. We consider the possibility that maybe she has gone cuckoo. And then there is the eccentric neighbor (Asunción Díaz). The walls are so thin and it does not seem like she ever leaves the house. Does she know more than what she leads others to believe?

The problem is the more questions we ask, the likelier it is for us to be disappointed. It should never be this way. It is as if the writers did not even attempt to create a story that is worthy of telling. There is no believable tension, only a series of scenes designed only to pass the time. Halfway through, it becomes clear that the material will go nowhere. Each day, we watch patients enter and exit the house and then the doctor and the nurse sharing an awkward conversation at night during or after dinner. Their relationship, at best, is forced. I did not buy into the idea that the two of them could ever be friends at work, let alone live in the same house.

The last third of “Blame,” directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, is most laughably bad. A mediocre episode of R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” would have been more entertaining to watch. At least the show has a sense of humor or campiness to it—and it is less than thirty minutes. Here, everything is played so seriously and yet it shies away from showing the necessary images. I wanted to be grossed out, curious, surprised—anything other than bored. Most importantly, there is not one scare to be found here. Not one. That is, unless you think a person entering a dark room is scary.

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