If you enjoyed Stephen King’s “Misery”, then the horror-thriller straight out of Spain, “Shrew’s Nest”, making its Quebec premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival, will be the right movie for you. The concept of a person in distress being aided by a cooped up, “slightly” deranged individual is at hand, but with some major backstory.
Montse, a religious zealot, has been living and raising her younger sister ever since their mother passed away while giving birth to her sibling. Their father then disappeared in the war and has never been heard of since. Montse has developed a severe case of agoraphobia, terrified of leaving the comforting confinements of their apartment. One afternoon, her upstairs neighbor slips and breaks his leg while descending a flight of stairs on his way out. Reluctantly, our protagonist, believing that Jesus would help his fellow brother, takes him in to help him recover. However, for the first time in her life, she is slowly falling in love with this man, Carlos. Despite attempting to keep him a secret, Montse’s sister discovers of the man’s presence as they both begin having mutual feelings for each other. When people start looking for Carlos and he repels Montse’s advances towards him, that’s when the proverbial sh*t really hits the fan.
Montse, played by Macarena Gómez, carries the movie on her shoulders. Her genuine performance as a religious, agoraphobic freak is stunning and believable. Her furious outbursts of rage have her transform from a delicate, fragile woman into a violent monster. Her sister, Carlos, and imaginary visions of her father (played by Luis Tosar from the excellent “Sleep Tight”) complement the acting of Gómez in tremendous fashion. Half of the entire movie’s appreciative experience comes from the sensational acting brought forth by these exceptional actors.
The other half of the jaw-dropping adventure that is “Shrew’s Nest” is the incredible backstory to Montse. I won’t reveal anything because the tale is much too interesting, but the way that the entire story unfolds before our eyes is shocking, touching, and cruel all at once. From beginning to end, the details of the story captivate your attention to the very last scene of the movie.
In addition to this incredible unravelling plot, the movie includes some cringing special effects, and I say this in a good way. From the look of Carlos’ broken leg that progressively gets worse, to what Montse does to him when he attempts to escape, to what happens to those who attempt to interfere with her plan is more and more outrageously impressive as the film advances. Co-directors Juanfer Andrés and Esteban Roel weren’t stingy on the special effects and the macabre mindset of Montse.
“Shrew’s Nest” is an outstanding motion picture filled with horrific images, cruel details of the past, and even touching sensitivity. One of the best movies of the 2015 edition of Fantasia that I have viewed until now, deserving a solid 4.5 stars out of 5.