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The Bar (El Bar)

Spanish cult director Álex de la Iglesia creates a convincing mock-horror/thriller, guaranteed to keep you cringing and laughing for nearly two hours - from the Berlinale

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM BERLIN

A small bar in central Madrid is not a particularly momentous place in the morning: regulars sip their coffee, a lady walks in search of a phone charger, while a beggar asks for food and drinks. Suddenly someone is shot outside and very strange events defying logic begin to unfold. Passers-by vanish and a male in the toilet begins to convulse and to display very nasty symptoms. These people are suddenly trapped in the bar, and they have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next.

Director Álex de la Iglesia has a career spanning more than 25 years, and he is recognised for his ludicrous and grotesque cinema style. His films are a blend of horror with a comic and vaguely erotic edge to it, and he is often compared to Mexican helmer Guillermo del Toro. Fans are guaranteed to enjoy The Bar, and absolutely nobody will get bored during. There’s a major twist every 15 minutes, and the whole conjecture changes. It’s almost as if you were in a videogame moving from one stage to the next. Not surprisingly, de la Iglesia was once invited to shoot Doom (based on the videogame), but sadly the deal fell through.

The unabashed absurdity and unpredictability make The Bar a very fun and engaging movie. Halfway through the action you will realise that there are just way too many loose ends, that it’s impossible they will connect in the end. So you will just sit back and enjoy the preposterous and outlandish predicament of the characters, and their increasingly dirty and scanty clothes. The only thing that is consistent throughout the movie is the religious rhetoric that the beggar hurls out. He’s the harbinger of the Spanish apocalypse.

At first, you may think that this is a new twist on the Spanish horror REC (Jaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza, 2007), but then the film veers away from zombies and strange infections into… oiled-up bodies, sewers, syringes and an extremely deranged Jesus Christ lookalike. This is a deliciously filthy and contagious story, in the literal sense of the two adjectives. Sit back and be disgusted. Just don’t try to make sense out of it!

El Bar is showing at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival taking place this week – click here for more information about the event.

Below is the film trailer:


By Victor Fraga - 16-02-2017

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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