‘The Wasteland’ Review: The Gripping Fear Of The Unknown

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‘The Wasteland’ is a new movie in the Spanish language streaming on Netflix. Originally titled ‘El paramo,’ which means a treeless region adjacent to a cold zone, this feature premiered at the Sitges Film Festival back in October and excellently mashes elements of the horror and psychological thriller genres, resulting in an intriguing piece of motion art.

‘The Wasteland’ is listed on IMDb as ‘The Beast’ and is kind of a slow burn glued together by a well-crafted storyline and astounding performances from the cast. To a greater extent, this title reminds viewers of the 2018 movie ‘The Wind’ as both films are Westerns and involve supernatural forces.

This movie marks the directorial debut of Spanish filmmaker David Casademunt from a script he penned in collaboration with Marti Lucas and Fran Menchon.

‘The Wasteland’ stars Inma Cuesta, Roberto Alamo, youngster Asier Flores, and Alejandra Howard.

The central themes of this feature tackle loneliness, terror, and survival, as well as the delicateness of the human brain and the desire and need for human beings to live amongst each other as this is what keeps us who we are…humans.

Casademunt delves into the deepest parts of the human mind in this claustrophobic and bone-chilling encounter drawing significant resonating effects, especially as the world continues to grapple with the global health crisis.

This title has been in development since 2014, way before anyone knew anything about COVID-19, and is interestingly highly resonating in this error where mental health as a result of lockdowns and people dying in masses has become such a critical issue affecting many people in society in this era.

In this narrative set in the 19th century, a small family lives isolated in a deserted wasteland in Spain. They are haunted by a terrifying creature that ruthlessly puts to the test the bond that binds the trio together as a family.

The characters in the film are forced to confront their ghosts just as many people have had to in the past two years in an attempt to come to terms with the effects of the pandemic.

The performances by the actors are executed to perfection and help in spicing up the title, making it not only intriguing but also captivating to watch.

Even though Robert Alamo, who plays Salvador, only shows up briefly, his presence leaves an indelible mark that lingers in the memories of many audiences who get the chance to watch this fantastic tale.

Despite being young and just starting off, Flores strives to prove that he was born for the silver screen, exhibiting some of the most chilling and dramatic performances in the entire movie elevated by his sublime and sensitive interpretation. He becomes the pillar for his mom, who is rapidly losing her sanity to an invisible enemy.

The mother-son bond between Flores and Cuesta is admirable, reminding audiences why the latter is considered as one of the best thespians of her generation. She excellently handles her worst fears head-on as she braces for the worst when confronting the horrific beast at the brink of going nuts.

There is an instance where things get a little cringy when the pair have to bathe together, which according to societal standards, can be viewed as inappropriate and weird but considering the predicament, they are going through, this seems like a non-issue.

This movie, however, isn’t the first time the actress has teamed up before with the streaming giant by appearing on the 2016 Spanish thriller series ‘The Disorder You Leave’ directed by Carlos Montero.

The script is well written. The characters are expertly developed. There is nothing cheesy about the plot, as everything is beautifully woven throughout the movie.

The cinematography courtesy of Isaac Vila is gorgeous coupled with creative and dramatic camera angles and framing as well as a chilling soundtrack and effects that enhance the creepiness and fear factor of the film making the experience even better.

The fact that the horrifying creature lurks in the shadows and audiences don’t get to see it on screen makes this flick even more gripping as it feeds on the psychological paranoia of the characters, which in the real sense is even worse than facing a physical form of the devil incarnate.

This also trends the extremely thin line of whether there actually is a creature terrorizing the trio out there or their minds are extremely distorted from staying away from other people for too long, and their tormentor is just a product of their hallucination.

For a first timer, the directing is superb, with intriguing instances seamlessly translating to tension, ensuring that the end product is an absolute nail-biting experience.

There are instances that made the movie drag a little bit; however, the atmosphere remained pretty chilled, with the freaky moments being a welcome compensation for the slow burn.

Overall, ‘The Wasteland’ is a fantastic tale that combines all the aspects of a great film. Not only does it have its own poetry in the scenes, but the direction is also elegant, and the fantastic tempo elements that ensure that once one starts watching it, they get entirely carried away.

It is definitely a small movie that is so powerful that it is surprisingly big. It makes one sad that it is only available on streaming; otherwise, a theatrical release of this gem would have done the movie great justice. 

It qualifies to be exhibited on the big screen under all rights and has the potential of blowing up and earning its spot on the indie legendary memory lane.

It’s great proof that when everything is excellently and passionately put together, the resulting product speaks volumes for itself. Casademunt and his team definitely put in their all and took the time to put together a magnificent movie.

‘The Wasteland’ is worth every minute spent enjoying it, especially for those who are adrenaline and scary instances junkies will have a wonderful feast in this title.

SCORE: 7/10

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