For Elisa (Para Elisa) Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Jinga Films
Written and directed by Juanra Fernández
2013, 80 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Ana Turpin as Elisa
Ona Casamiquela as Ana
Luisa Gavasa as Diamantina
Jesus Caba as Alex
A naïve young woman accepts a nannying position with a psychopath and her daughter. Unfortunately, for 'nannying', instead read: 'kidnap victim' and the position in question is a chair. This is why you really should read the small print in that contract. Apparently inspired by a Cliff Richard song, Elisa wants a walking, talking living doll of her very own. Which is where Ana comes in.
Well, maybe not walking or talking. For most of the film, Ana is tied to a chair, silenced thanks to the juice of a plant which mutes the vocal chords of all who might ingest it. I was reminded of that episode of Star Trek: Voyager, in which the holographic doctor goes insane and starts terrorising a poor Klingon. Saves on the duct tape bill, I suppose, and doesn't leave such a nasty rash on the lips (less drooling than that old torturer's favourite, the ball gag, too). The 'living' part is also less than guaranteed – Elisa and her mother are capable of some pretty dangerous mood swings. With Ana at Elisa's mercy, the best she can hope for is an early bedtime for the mad young madam. Alas, when her sleep is disturbed, things really go to pot.
For Elisa (Para Elisa, to go by its Spanish title) is a slow starter, but once it gets going, becomes really interesting. With its basic concept and stripped back action, it's reminiscent of such European horror films as Inside and Them, crossed with the more American Babysitter Wanted or House of the Devil. It's not as gory as the former French films or fast and thrilling as the latter, but it does have its merits. Elisa and her mother make for an enjoyably demented pair of villains, while Ona Casamiquela makes a striking damsel in distress as poor put-upon Ana.
While it is far from invaluable viewing, For Elisa is thrilling, tense and enjoyable. It has a cool concept, good acting and – above all – some great villainy. If you see it at all, see it (predictable line) for Elisa. Like the demented Lola of The Loved Ones and the terrifying Annie Wilkes of Misery, she's a female horror villain to be scared of. Sadly, For Elisa is a mix of both films and rarely enough of its own beast. The action in the second half is exciting, gruesome and a lot of fun, but never is it ever original.
The Spanish title may recall the Beethoven symphony of the same name, but For Elisa isn't really a classic. It plays from the right hymn sheet though (talk about mixing your musical metaphors) and is music enough to this horror fan's ears.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.