H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (aka H6: Diario de un asesino) Movie Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan USA
Written and directed by Martín Garrido Barón
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on November 21st, 2006
Fernando Acaso as Antonio Frau
María José Bausá as Francisca
Raquel Arenas as Rosa
Xènia Reguant as Marisa
Sonia Moreno as Tina
Ramón Del Pomar as Curro
Antonio Frau just did 25 years hard time for murder. He killed his girlfriend during a hot-blooded argument, a mistake any young man could make. Now that he's back on the streets and trying to resume a normal life, he finds that he has inherited the Pension Paraiso (Paradise Hotel) from a long lost aunt. The Paraiso is in "that part of town" and his aunt ran it as a brothel, not a hotel. When Antonio moves in he finds the Paraiso in a state of disrepair, but he manages to clean it up and create a comfortable apartment in one of the suites.
Things are really looking up for Antonio as he puts the past behind him, and starts anew. He joins a dating service and manages to find himself a nice little wife. He buys himself a brand new freezer. He even falls in love with the Paraiso, and begins to fix it up.
Except for Room 6. Because Room 6 is where he tortures, rapes, and dismembers the squatters, prostitutes, drug addicts and other low life scum that inhabit his neighborhood.
Welcome home, Antonio!
H6 not only brings you into the world of a serial killer — it goes beyond that, and takes you into the mind of a serial killer. Writer/Director Martín Garrido Barón has created an uncanny and disturbing, yet highly realistic film. We, the audience, not only get to see what Antonio Frau does, but why he does it. While other films have attempted this in the past, they have not done it as well, as realistic, or as subtly as H6 does. Films like Silence of the Lambs, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, or Natural Born Killers always attempt to show what is wrong with their anti-hero. They make it a point to demonstrate why the killer kills, and we usually end up with a comic book villain that is either crazy, had an abusive childhood, or has some other overly simplified and equally clichéd problem. Not so with H6. The truly terrifying aspect of this film is that Frau is none of those things. He is a normal guy. A loving husband, a good neighbor, and a cold blooded killer. He has more in common with real life killers like Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgeway than he does with Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter.
This is not to say that Antonio Frau is a perfect example of mental health. He is not. But instead of throwing things in our faces, Director Barón presents things in a natural and straightforward way. This allows the viewer to decide (and many times, realize in horror) what Frau is up to. Getting the chance to discover things on our own makes aspects of the film more shocking than they would be if it were rammed down our throats.
Actor Fernando Acaso does a terrific job as Antonio Frau. A subtle glance or a look of sudden thoughtfulness is all Acaso needs to carry a scene. Acaso brings a kind of sensitivity and compassion to the role of Frau. Normally, this would seem to be at odds with a serial killer, but Acaso uses it to create a deeper, more complex character. Through narration and diary entries we live in Frau's head, and see it all through his eyes. We get to know him, we get to like him, and we get to be genuinely terrified of him. This is a testament to Acaso's abilities as an actor, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
All of this makes H6 a must see, not to mention a nice departure from Tartan's usual gang of women in white, ghastly school girls, and ghost babies. You have a reservation at Antonio Frau's Pension Paraiso on August 22nd. He won't like it if you miss it.
Video and Audio:
Because this was a screener, there is no review of the image quality. The final release will be anamorphic. No screen shots have been provided because they would not do the final product justice. Instead, promo stills from Tartan have been used here.
Because this was a screener, there is no review for the sound quality. The final release will have both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. The film is entirely in Spanish, with optional English subtitles.
Because this was a screener, there were no Special Features on the disc. The final release should have a trailer, trailers for other Tartan USA films, and interviews with director Martín Garrido Barón and actor Fernando Acaso.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, Pioneer 815 7.1 receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)