Jan 4, 2019
Year Two continues, and today, I am revealing our first regular weekly correspondent, Andrew Campbell. Andrew has contributed two previous reviews for Takeover Tuesday, not to mention a loyal financial contributor. I have to admit, I feel a little like Tom Sawyer having him as a regular contributor, but he’s also been a reliable person to bounce ideas off, especially in designing Year Two of One Movie Punch. You’ll be able to find his reviews at onemoviepunch.com using the Fantastic Fest blog tag. And if you want to become a regular contributor to One Movie Punch, head over to patreon.com/onemoviepunch and show the new team some love. Even the smallest amount will help us offset our hosting costs and help us expand with our audience.
And now, One Movie Punch presents... The Fantastic!
Hello film fans! My name is Andrew Campbell and if my voice sounds familiar, it’s because I made a couple Takeover Tuesday appearances on One Movie Punch in 2018, focusing on lesser-known films that I thought might interest listeners of the podcast. I enjoyed the experience so much that I have joined the team this year.
Every Friday, I will present a film that debuted at Fantastic Fest. This festival runs for one amazing week each fall at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. For the past 14 years, Fantastic Fest has debuted a wide range of genre films, as the festival itself has gained prestige. This includes larger budget works such as “There Will Be Blood”, “Zombieland”, “Split”, and last year’s “Halloween" sequel. At the same time, the festival hosts dozens of independent films and oddities from the U.S. and the world over, many of which have gone on to become cult hits, such as Jeremy Saulnier’s “Green Room”, David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows” and, I hate to even say it, Tom Six’s “Human Centipede”.
Most weeks I will select one of the 50-60 films that premiered at the 2018 fest. The majority of these pictures have not yet been widely released in U.S. theaters or on streaming services. I’ll try time my reviews so that you, the listener, will have a way to access each film if your interest is piqued. Occasionally, I will reach back into the archives to cover an older film, typically one that’s available for streaming. I vow to do my best to avoid major spoilers, so feel free to listen to the end each week or hit pause if you want to check out the movie and come back later on.
I would love to hear what you think of these films through our social media channels. If you would like to nominate a film from the library of nearly a thousand that have played Fantastic Fest, please see the show notes for a link to a Letterboxd page that contains the complete list.
So let’s start this journey. Keep an open mind and together we are going to explore some unique films. Maybe even some fantastic ones.
Today’s movie is “The Invisible Guest”, the Spanish film written and directed by Oriol Paulo. “The Invisible Guest” made its U.S. premiere at the 2016 Fantastic Fest. The film follows wealthy businessman Adrián Doria (Mario Casas), accused of murdering his lover Laura Vidal (Bárbara Lennie), who is holed up with his new attorney Victoria Goodman (Ana Wagener). An eyewitness is hours away from stepping forward and the minutes are counting down as they work through the theories, lies, and truths that lead up to this moment.
“The Invisible Guest” wastes no time as Victoria Goodman, an expert witness preparation specialist, arrives at the swank apartment of Doria, tasked with three hours to gather information and build him an air-tight story protecting him from a murder allegation. What follows is a series of narrations taking us through a tragic event, and an alleged cover-up. As the film progresses, we are presented with alternate viewpoints and potential truths. The director does a masterful job illustrating these different versions of events, with shifting narrators and flashbacks nested inside of flashbacks. The titular ‘invisible guest’ refers to the supposed murderer, who somehow committed the crime without leaving a trace. Determining the identity of this invisible guest and how they pulled it off are but two of several interwoven mysteries.
What makes this film a challenge for American audiences at the same time heightens the realism. The primary characters tend to speak very quickly. So leave your cell phone on the charger and make sure you’re ready to focus for 90 minutes. The English subtitles fly across the screen for the first 15 and it takes about that much time before the film truly hooks you in. Now, the nice thing about foreign films such as this one is being presented with a cast of highly talented actors, likely all of whom are unknown to listeners of this podcast, as they were to me, allowing you to identify with them solely as the characters they are portraying. With mainstream motion pictures it’s easy to get distracted by celebrity actors, especially if you’re an avid film buff. Perhaps even more distracting is when you spot a character actor, and you can’t focus on the movie until IMDb tells you who they are and reminds you what you just saw them in. I mean, is it just me, or was Ann Dowd in every movie released last year? All that said, stick with this film for a short while to ensure you understand who these characters are, and the payoff will well be worth it.
What makes “The Invisible Guest” fantastic?I enjoyed the film immensely and would recommend it to fans of mysteries and crime thrillers. It is fast-paced, but light on action. The way the story unfolds in layers points to an incredible screenplay. The director does excellent work framing the shifting story, but there may be some nuances lost in translation – say, for instance, the bland title.
“The Invisible Guest” (2016) is a taut and mysterious thriller that rewards viewers who make the effort. Prime for an English-language adaptation, I would not mind seeing this film remade, so long as they don’t dilute the complex story. Fans of films that use multiple unreliable narrators such as “Memento”, or even “Clue”, will enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
One Movie Punch: 7.8/10
“The Invisible Guest” (2016) is not rated and is currently available for streaming on Netflix.
Come back next week where I’ll be reviewing “You Might Be The Killer” (2018), a slasher movie send-up starring Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan that comes with a bizarre backstory.