La Casa begins with a series of archival news footage looking at a haunted house in a town in Chile. The footage gives us a history of the house and the family that lived there, who were trying to start a family and when they were unable to conceive a child, they resorted to black magic for help, though when the child was finally born it was born deformed. This caused madness amongst the house, causing everyone to die in horrific ways. Legend has it their spirits continue to haunt the land.
We then jump to 1986, where a police officer named Arriaga (Gabriel Cañas), who is part of a night patrol team in the town of Quinta Normal gets a call to investigate some noises at an abandoned house. Arriaga goes to investigate and unknowingly enters the haunted property.
Writer/director Jorge Olguín kicks off La Casa in a gripping way. The news footage gives us the backstory that we need and sets the tone for how horrifying and awful this house is. As we jump into the story, Olguín brilliantly sends our police officer into this haunted mansion without our character knowing what the place is or any of the stories behind it. What this does is give us as a viewer a sense of dread for our main character. He doesn’t know what he’s walking into, but we know it’s a place of terrible evil.
Olguín plunges us right into the depths of horror as soon as Arriaga enters the property. Olguín shot the film in real-time and made the film seem like it was shot in one long take, a gimmick that can be hit-and-miss in its effectiveness. But it works incredibly well in La Casa. We feel like we are partners with Arriaga. We never leave his side and see everything that he sees for the first time. Though we are aware that this house is haunted, we have no idea was evil and horror is waiting for us down every hallway and in every room Arriaga enters. Olguín brilliantly utilizes jump-scares with endless suspense to make the whole film truly terrifying.
Though La Casa seems like a simple haunted house film on paper, it is far more complicated and complex than that. On a technical level, it’s outstanding. The single-take mixed with invisible cuts is crafted expertly, the score is eerie, the lighting adds even more layers of visual suspense, and the performance by Cañas is very impressive as he is on screen for the entire time and takes us on this terrifying journey. The ending of the movie twists everything that you thought you were watching. It is a shocking finale in a movie centered around guilt and living with your own demons.
La Casa is a terrifying experience. A brilliantly made and horrifying true story with a sensational lead performance. It has jump scares, unbearable suspense, haunting images, and a twist ending that will make your head spin. It’s a great haunted house film and knowing that it’s based on a true story makes it all the more chilling. Olguín is said to be a pioneer of horror and fantasy cinema in Chile and with is outstanding work in La Casa, he is a director who’s work I will be seeking out and diving into.
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