aka El callejón
Director: Antonio Trashorras
Writer: Antonio Trashorras
Stars: Ana de Armas, Diego Cadavid, Leonor Varela
Blind Alley, aka El callejón, is another film which is heavily influenced by European genre cinema from the 1970s. It’s a debt that’s pretty explicit, even down to the excellent opening credits which are very deliberately modeled on those from films by Jess Franco, Mario Bava et al; and that’s not to mention the fact that the protagonist is called ‘Rosa Neri’, a direct nod to Italian exploitation diva Rosalba Neri.
The plot is pared down and minimal: Rosa (Ana de Armas) is a cleaner in a big hotel with dreams of becoming a dancer. After attending a late audition she stops off to wash her costume in a 24 hour launderette, where she comes across a selection of sinister and eccentric characters (an imposing hobo, a drug addict etc). So she’s very happy when the handsome Gabriel (Diego Cadavid) arrives… but he turns out to be far less benign than he initially appears.
This was written and directed by the splendidly named Antonio Trashorras, who had previously scripted some very good Spanish horror films (The Devil’s Backbone, Agnosia). Despite it being his directorial debut he handles everything with some confidence, apart from the overuse of rather gimmicky split screen and retro editorial transitions. He’s no doubt helped by the sensibly limited scope of the project, which is largely set in one location and with a very minimal assortment of characters. Although the plot does become a tad repetitive at times, it makes up for it by veering off in a genuinely surprising direction for the last twenty minutes or so, at which point it is revealed than this is anything but a standard stalk-and-slash style thriller. In the meantime there are some deliberately obtuse elements to the plot which are never really explained but which add to the sense of unease (quite why do we never see the face of Rosa’s sister, for instance?) Trashorras has since made the obscure black and white horror movie Anabel (2015), while Ana de Armas – who is excellent – had a prominent role in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock.