Spanish cinema has always had a special place in my heart thanks to the likes of the iconic (and now sadly late) Jess Franco, as well as the ubiquitous cult figure of Paul Naschy. Horror from that region seems to have enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance of late with titles like The Orphanage, [REC] and the excellent yet slightly underrated Julia’s Eyes – written by one Oriol Paulo.
Here, Paulo assumes role of director as well as writer to tell us the story of Inspector Jaime (Jose Coronado), who is called to the hospital to see a patient by the name of Angel Torres who it transpires is the night guard in the local morgue. He’s just been run over after fleeing his post in a blind panic and running from the facility. Torres is the only night staff, so details remain pretty sketchy for Inspector Jaime apart from the added complication that a dead body is missing – Mayka Villaverde, who died from a heart attack earlier that day and her autopsy was pending. All the security cameras are out in the building apart from the one that focuses on the night guards desk, so therefore it captures Torres’ being distracted by a disturbance.
Mayka’s husband Alex is wallowing in his grief with her relatives back at the house, but as soon as he’s left to his own devices he heads over to his lovers house where he shares his delight at the passing of his wife. This certainly would make him a suspect in the disappearance of his wife’s body, but when he’s phoned with the news, the level of shock he displays brings into question his role in this. The police however are quick to make him prime suspect, and on hearing about the guard in a coma he’s quick to phone his lover and ask her to go to the hospital where the guard is to see if she can find out what he saw and he’s sceptical that the police aren’t disclosing all the facts.
With the core of the mystery established, the film continues by mixing flashbacks which serve to tell us about the relationship between Mayka and Alex, along with developments in the case which all take place over the course of one evening – and offer some intriguing twists.
The Body is a first class thriller which mixes elements of horror and mystery alongside Hitchcockian twists and intrigue. Its genius lies in its simplicity – a missing body, but by gradually increasing the complexity through flashbacks of Alex’s and Mayka’s relationship its builds itself into an ingenious film of relentless tension. The idea of setting it over the course of one evening and largely in one location contributes perfectly to the intensity of the picture. Added to this are the three excellent performances from Alex (Hugo Silva), Mayka (Belen Rueda) and Inspector Jaime (Jose Coronado) who all lend the film a certain maturity from which the film benefits from immeasurably.
The Body comes very highly recommended – and after 44 reviews it gets my highest UKHS score to date…
8.5 out of 10