Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Days of Halloween Redux: The Valdemar Legacy

2010, José Luis Alemán -- download

La herencia Valdemar was a strange little flick.  It starts with the impression it wants to be the Spanish The Woman in Black having an expert on all things old travel to an old Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere seeking an appraisal of its worth.  Her predecessor never completed the job and she has been promised a hefty bonus if she does his work for him, and quickly!  Seriously, real estate listings for such houses should have Haunted House noted.  She quickly arrives, finds some strangeness and then is attacked by a shambling figure in rags.  She barely escapes and is rescued by Creepy Groundskeeper.

The next act has a mysterious figure on a train interviewing a fixer, someone hired by the (real estate?) company to find out why their employees keep on disappearing.  That Creepy Old Man hiring the investigator has a Cthulhu headed walking stick does not bode well.  The tale he tells of the house and its inhabitants is not your expected evil people did evil things and opened the wrong gate kind of story; not completely.  The Valdemars were decent people, who ran it as an orphanage, but also like to dupe silly people out of money via their "talk to the spirits" act.  So, yes, suddenly we have plot elements from The Orphanage and The Awakening.  But seriously, we are supposed to like this kind, benevolent couple because they take care of orphans.

But wait, that's not all !!  Almost immediately they are debunked (as mediums; they are still kindly to orphans) and Mr. Valdemar is tossed in jail.  And who comes to his rescue?  None other than Aleister Crowley himself !  Even though Valdemar has been faking his connections to the dead, Crowley seems convinced the man knows something.  So he gets Valdemar freed and sets up a real spiritual encounter with some odd guests: Lizzie Borden, Bram Stoker, Belle Gunnes and an unknown fourth.  OK, I didn't know about Gunnes infamy as a serial killer either but the truly unheard nature of the fourth does not bode well for him.  Crowley opens rift into Hell (or at least The Other Side) and accidentally releases something nasty that kills Unknown Fourth and then escapes to animate a nearby dead body.  Handy there was a fleshy dead body nearby.

We have some more stuff about the ghoul (yes, the guy in rags from earlier) eating a bunch of people, the house catching on fire-not-its-not-on-fire-anymore and Mrs Valdemar sacrificing her own soul so her husband, who yes just participated in releasing a ghoul who was probably employed by Cthulhu, can live.  And thus ends the incredibly long anecdote about why the house is not a nice place.  And possibly a hint to the investigator he will be up against a ghoul?  If creepy guy with the cane knew all of this, why is he sending assessors to the house?  By design?  If so, then why send the investigator with fore-knowledge?

With the tale over we go back to the assessor who was being chased by ghoul but who was saved by Creepy Groundskeeper #1.  Creepy Groundskeeper #2 now has her chained to a bed and she is trying to understand what is going on and then... then, well, then the movie fucking ends !!!  What the fucking fuck ?!?  And now a message from our sponsor where we tell you about the sequel.

Oh go fuck yourself José Luis Alemán.

Yeah, a well-shot and decently acted movie seems to be trying to jam every ghost and evil cliche into one film completely shoots itself in the foot by trying to be a two-parter.  That was annoying when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did it but they had a good reason.  And we knew about it going in.  Alemán can keep his second movie and go straight to the Old Ones.