Review by Sean Boelman
Every spooky season brings with it an influx of horror, distributors often saving their best and scariest content for this time in which everyone is wanting their fill of thrills. Unfortunately, 32 Malasana Street (removing the tilde from the real-life Madrid street’s name) doesn’t fit that bill, as it’s a competent but entirely average haunted house flick.
Supposedly based on actual events, the film follows a family who moves from the country to a new house in Madrid, only to find that their idyllic abode is actually shared with a malevolent supernatural presence. The story doesn’t go much deeper than that, and as a result, this feels like a cheap Conjuring knock-off without the soul that made that series so successful.
One of the movie’s issues is that it feels too long, even if it is under an hour and forty-five minutes in length. Had the script (which has four credited writers) been more original, and unique, perhaps it could have been justified. But for a story that is generic and predictable, there is no need to extend things as long as this.
That said, the film’s biggest shortcoming is its lack of character development. The lack of an interesting story could have been remedied by an intriguing angle, emphasizing the dynamic between the characters, but as is, they feel like a nondescript family that could appear in any stock horror picture.
Another thing that is extremely disappointing about the movie is that it wastes the talent involved. For the ghostly characters, director Albert Pintó was able to recruit the extremely talented physical performer Javier Botet, who is one of the best actors working today in bringing monsters to life. The fact that he isn’t given a truly horrific character to play is blasphemous.
That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have any good scares at all. The opening sequence is strong and effectively establishes the atmosphere, and there are a few solid moments sprinkled throughout. Still, a majority of the jump scares tend to use the same formula, and so after the third or fourth time, they lose their effect.
The movie also has some really interesting things going on aesthetically. Although period horror set in the 1970s has become a pretty prominent trend in the genre, Pintó does a solid job of making that atmosphere work. Thanks to some strong production design and solid soundtrack choices, the film looks and sounds pretty great.
32 Malasana Street will mostly serve to remind viewers of better, scarier haunted house movies that would be a better use of their time. Still, for those who are easily frightened, this may have just enough mediocre jump scares to be worth watching.
32 Malasana Street streams on Shudder beginning October 22.
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