Last years Don’t listen (Voces) is one of those rare Netflix gems that delivers on all fronts. This Spanish-led horror has a plethora of haunting scares and showcases a debuting director in Ángel Gómez Hernández, as one to watch with his mastery of tension and suspense which elevates its by the book narrative to new heights despite occasionally falling into overly familiar troupes.
Don’t listen is a haunted house movie through and through, and wears its premise boldly, acting as a culmination of modern horror with ‘The Conjuring’, ‘insidious’ and a hint of Netflix’s own ‘haunting of hill house’ thrown in for good measure. Fans of jump scares and witch craft will feel right at home with this one as it refuses to ever let it’s audience settle in.
The movie sets up Eric (Lucas Blas),a young boy plagued by a series of demonic voices that terrorise him through his bedside walkie talkie, as our main character, we spend the opening 20 minutes following his struggle to settle into his parents new home. He’s everything you expect a child featured in a horror movie to be; innocent, troubled and harbours the ability to communicate with the dead.
However, it’s not long before the movie takes an unexpected turn and decides to kill off its proposed main character when young Eric is found dead, floating facedown in the backyard’s pool. This causes a drastic tonal shift as we are left to follow Erics grief stricken parents Daniel (Rodolfo Sancho) and Sara (Belén Fabra), who begin to experience the same hauntings that plagued there son. It’s not until they receive a ghostly plea for help which encourages them to seek out a renowned paranormal expert, German (Ramón Barea), and his sceptic daughter Ruth (Ana Fernández), to help them discover the truth behind what happened to their son. What they soon discover is far worse than they ever expected.
Hernández, leads us on a journey of loss and despair as the group fall deeper into their investigation as each characters personal griefs begin to manifest before their eyes. Daniel and Sara are still reeling from Eric’s death which quickly drives a wedge between the pair, causing them to argue and bicker. We watch as this once loving couple are torn apart at the seams by their shared pain. Both Sancho and Fabra bring a level of honesty to their performances that’s so absorbing that even in a handful of scenes where the pair never utter a word of spoken dialogue, their pain screams out to us.
However, as good as their performances are, the true standout of Don’t listen is the inclusion of German and Ruth, a father daughter pairing that act in a similar vein to the Warrens from James wan’s ‘Conjuring-Verse’. A pair of paranormal investigators who spend most of their time chasing false leads and ghostly hoaxes. That is until they reach ‘The house of the Voices’ Like Daniel and Sara, they too harbour feelings of grief, which stem from Ruth’s mother’s suicide that happens prior to the events of the movie which eventually leads to a some of the movies most nail biting scares. One moment that springs to mind is when the duo first enter the house, they bring with them an assortment of techno-ghost finder gadgets and begin searching the the premises for the ghosts who inhabit it. It’s through these gadgets that we watch German come within inches of the entity and where Hernandez dials up the tension to twelve.
As as film barrels towards its frightful conclusion, the movie hits every beat you would expect it to and doesn’t do much in the way of diverting from its predictable path. This is one area where the movie does fall short, with so much going for it, ‘Don’t Listen’ fails to add anything original to it’s intriguing premise and anyone well versed with the horror genre’s recent obsession with home hauntings may be able to predict much of the horrors that await our cast. However, with that said, the movies final reveal is one you will surely remember for years to come.
Ultimately, it’s the movies demonic antagonist that hold this movie back from greatness. With its horrific history dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, a dark time in Spain’s long history of which saw countless people butchered if they were ever thought to be a witch. However, with all of this tragic history in place, ‘Don’t Listen’ fails at elevating its antagonist to anything more than an demonic force being evil for evils sake. Its a shame as there was room to create a truly conflicted presence in the demon, a character with a tragic past that could have been explored further but unfortunately this was never to be.
Don’t listen is a great modern horror movie that will delight most of who watch it, from its variety of great characters, and even greater scares. This is one Netflix horror you certainly don’t want to miss.
Horror | Spain, 2020 | 15 | Netflix | Dir.Ángel Gómez Hernández |Rodolfo Sancho, Ana Fernández, Ramón Barea