Spain…. ¿Do I Need to be Worried About You?

In the last two weeks or so I’ve seen two short Spanish horror/thriller movies and I’ve gotta say…. I’m concerned. The first was La Cueva (The Cave) from 2014 and then there was El Cadáver de Anna Fritz (The Body of Anna Fritz) from 2015. Both are among the most disturbing movies I’ve seen in the last ten or so years.

The Cave is mostly a found footage nightmare about a group of youngish adults on vacation in the Baleares who impulsively decide to take a look into a cave and then go a little deeper and then a little deeper and then things turn to predictable shit.

The Body of Anna Fritz is about an orderly in a hospital who takes a picture of a beautiful dead celebrity who’s been taken to the morgue and then sends it to his friends, then the friends arrive and want to see her for themselves and things rapidly devolve into depravity and worse….

What’s surprising is that both are so unsettling without resorting to anything remotely supernatural. There’s a very short moment in the Cave where the viewer relaxes and thinks “Okay, now the weird things will start happening” but.. nope. The horror here is all too human. The Body of Anna Fritz depends on an unexpected and unexplained in the movie event (but which most viewers have presumably heard of).

I reccomend both movies for those with strong nerves (and stomaches) but they also make me wonder about Spanish collective mental health. Spain has produced some disturbing movies before (think Tras el Cristal) but the nature of these movies don’t seem like typical shock fare. There’s a…. thoughtfulness behind them that points to the idea that the directors are communicate more than fear or dread or disgust.

It could be that these have the artistic function of safety valves, allowing the audience to purge stress and anxiety, or they could be symptoms of a society on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown. I’d kind of like to know which is the case before I take my next trip to Spain.

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