The adjective ‘Hitchcockian’ is bandied about frequently but rarely proves well-chosen. However, in Guillem Morales’ knockout debut thriller there’s no other word for it. The fact that he went on to make ‘Julia’s Eyes’ says a lot.
When it first appeared in 2004 the film was called ‘The Uncertain Guest’, a more accurate title, and was an early example of the astonishing genre renaissance that’s happening in Spanish film at the moment – except that you won’t find any reviews of it on IMBd. The film hardly received any distribution – but this glossy psychodrama really deserves it.
Architect Felix is breaking up with his girlfriend when a stranger calls to use the phone, then disappears. Over the next few days, Felix gradually becomes convinced that the stranger is living in his house. He takes to sleeping in his car, so afraid is he of going back inside the home he built.
An encounter with an irritable German neighbour and her dog leads to an unfortunate accident, but the police won’t let Felix stay overnight in their cells. When he makes a drawing of the stranger and the local children recognise him, the situation takes a left turn and becomes blackly comic as Felix meets his neighbour. An early scene of Felix watching a programme about territorial nesting proves very suggestive, and leads to a shocking climax.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a quote from the excellent website ‘Eye For Film’; ‘(The director) shows a keen understanding of Hitchcock’s characteristic themes, like doubling, voyeurism and the transference of guilt, and of how to deploy even a seemingly minor detail – in this case a brief excerpt from a nature documentary that the protagonist, Felix, catches on television one night – to ultimately telling effect…the kind of debut feature that encourages you to believe that cinema does have a future.’
The good news is – it’s on DVD in a very nice transfer, with subtitles.