In recent years the Spanish have been pretty reliant when it comes to churning out solid horror fare. There’s something inherently frightening in their gothic approach, taking horror to a macabre, often ethereal place, inspired by ancient folk and fairytale ideals. Spanish language horror comedy is definitely one of the hardest subsets of horror to succeed in, so does LOS LOBOS DE ARGA make the cut?
The cool, hedonistic graphic prologue tells the tale of a lusty Marchioness who repeatedly cuckolds her impotent husband, hoping that one of the men she kidnaps will give her a child. When she is impregnated by the leader of a travelling gypsy circus, the child is cursed by the man’s wife. Their son becomes a werewolf, the secret shame of the village of Arga.
In one great moment, a werewolf clean swipes a villager’s head off like an Easter egg.
100 years later, writer Tomas returns to his childhood home of Arga to write his second book, only to find that the gypsy’s curse has a direct effect on his life. LOS LOBOS DE ARGA plays a loud, boisterous and broad game, never afraid to resort to bold slapstick and sloppy gore. In one great moment, a werewolf clean swipes a villager’s head off like an Easter egg. Horror comedy is difficult because the film makers tend to skimp on one side; usually the horror. In some cases this is forgivable in view of the sheer ingenuity, for instance Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD: low on horror, bursting with inspired gore gags. The opposite end of the scale comes in Sam Raimi’s original EVIL DEAD, which is at times like watching someone’s delirious nightmare unfold on screen with horrific glee. In LOS LOBOS, though, the horror just isn’t there. It’s good to see physical make up on the werewolves; no CGI is used even in the transformation scenes which look painful and nasty. But that’s really as close as it comes to any sort of scare. In a film of the horror comedy genre, the mission statement really needs to be fulfilled.
LOS LOBOS DE ARGA is a perfectly enjoyable fun, a debacle involving the lead character’s pinky fingers being a stand out moment. It’s just a shame that it isn’t at all scary.