Antonio Trashorras' 2011 film Blind Alley has been high on my priority list, ever since I saw some screencaps appear on Twitch in 2011. Unfortunately, as is the case with too many flicks that appear on that website, they play the festival circuit and then disappear. I was starting to wonder if Blind Alley had suffered a similar fate until, lo and behold, it popped up on Netflix last weekend. I wasted no more time.
When struggling actress Rosa (Ana de Armas) decides to duck into a laundromat in preparation for an early morning audition, her night quickly becomes a nightmare.
Blind Alley was an extremely frustrating film to watch because it should've been a home run, but silly little things – some the filmmakers' fault, some not – constantly detracted from the whole. But I don't want to get ahead of myself here.
The first act of this film is near perfection. There's a wonderful blend of Argento, DePalma and Spanish whimsy that really pulls you in. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, as Trashorras, having penned Guillermo del Toro's 2004 dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth, has done this before. The colourful opening credits were inspired and made Rosa instantly likable. I find nine-tenths of my investment in a horror picture is dependent on the female lead and I was almost immediately taken with her. I didn't hurt that she resembled Lost in Translation era ScarJo whenever she smiled. The set up and geography of the title location were wonderful and utilized to full effect over the course of the picture.
|Like I said, whimsy.|
So, what happened? Well, just when everything was going fine, Rosa made one of the most idiotic decisions I've seen in quite some time. I actually blurted out “Whaddaya doin?!” to my television set. I understand forwarding story and conflict, but there has to some semblance of logic involved. Blind Alley won me back over the course of the next half-hour with some inspired tension – kudos to Trashorras for working overtime – but unfortunately, the climax features several more annoying plot points. Like I said, if there wasn't so much strong stuff overall, my thoughts on this film would not be nearly as favourable. The ending initially had me scratching my head, as well. It wasn't until I ran it back a bit, that I had the “oh, I see what you did there” moment. Okay, fair enough.
|All this picture needs is a nice frame.|
However, my biggest fucking beef lies, tragically, not with the movie at all, but the marketing. I don't know if it was Mongrel who chose the DVD art, but someone needs to be slapped. HARD. I won't show it here – although I don't know how you'll avoid it if you pull it up on Netflix – but it totally gives away everything. I'm not saying that where the story went was overly clever, but at least give the film a fighting chance. See the poster at the top and the one below?
They give you all the info you need. No more, no less. The one representing the film now, is atrocious. Smarten up, people!
Anyway, bottom line, if you are into giallos and/or stylish thrillers, Blind Alley is a well worth your time. Just be prepared for a few bumps along the way.