“The Elderly”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

The startling and horrific opening scene in co-directors Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez’s “The Elderly” where a senior woman leaps from her apartment balcony in a graphic, bloody suicide sets the tone for what’s the come. The film blends psychological and body horror in a way that’s extremely unsettling, and I became quickly and fully engrossed and immersed in this nightmarish tale. I have not felt this uneasy watching a film in a long time.

Set in Madrid during a heat wave, tensions are rising with the temperatures. After his wife kills herself, octogenarian Manuel (Zorion Eguileor) is distraught. Unable to care for himself, he moves in with his son Mario (Gustavo Salmerón), granddaughter Naia (Paula Gallego), and Mario’s new girlfriend, Lena (Irene Anula). Suffering from dementia, Manuel begins to believe he is talking to his dead wife. Around the same time, Naia starts having hallucinations and disturbing visions. The record high temperatures and oppressive heat are starting to take a toll on everyone in the city, but especially the resident elderly, who are becoming more and more aggressive. This doesn’t end well, as you can imagine.

The script blends supernatural elements with science fiction and horror, and Cerezo and Gómez craft a genre thriller that toys with social commentary about the very real human fear of aging. The story sometimes feels too simple and the pacing a little slow, but the parts of the film that don’t work as well are quickly forgotten in the final act. There are some haunted house movie jump scares and creepy visuals, but the tension and gore is dialed up to the maximum setting.

What sets “The Elderly” apart from other films is the skillful direction and excellent performances from the entire cast. The film is a knockout visually, and it’s also emotionally intense. This is one of those movies that will stick with you long after the end credits.

By: Louisa Moore

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