Sitges Film Festival Film Review: Facies (El Semblante)

Facies (El Semblante) screened in the Brigadoon official selection section in competition of the 55th edition of the Sitges Festival – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia (55 Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantastic de Catalunya) running from October 6 to 16. It will also compete for the Paul Naschy Brigadoon Award.

Directors Raúl Cerezo and Carlos Moriana present an intense horror thriller, a reflection on pain, tyranny and the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition. This short has won over ten awards and been selected for more than 60 festivals.

I read a statement made by co-director Carlos Moriana in the press release describing the short, “It’s a story about torture, pain and fear, which made our blood run cold even from the writing of the script.”

If the filmmaker has made the statement, then know they are not exaggerating with this description of a film that within the first few minutes of the film the audience learns about the torture instruments that were built during the time of The Inquisition. Just watching the demonstration of the “chair” where the individual is to be strapped is eye opening, to say the least, it is the facial expression by the authority who is leading these tortures to make a viewer feel sickened. He shows signs of a guilty pleasure that I will not soon forget. This is a film with no beasts, but yet the human monsters shown are unforgettable.

Carlos Santos (who plays the Inquisitor) is a Goya Best New Actor winner in 2017 for his role in El hombre de las mil caras, which also earned him an award at the Laguardia-Biasteri (Álava) Town Council short film festival. If his performance gives me the chills in a short film, I can only imagine how I would walk out of a feature film very disturbed after watching the glee he has from torture sequences.
Daniel Ortiz (who plays the engineer/torture master) turns in an emotionally painful, grief – filled performance when he discovers that his daughter, Elena (Madrid-born actress Lucía Díez, La catedral del mar, Velvet Colección and El Cid) is among those selected by the Inquisitor.

SYNOPSIS – Spain. 1692. The Holy Inquisition is sunken in decadence and decay. The reaction of those behind its workings is to become more merciless than ever. An inquisitor has, for years, been searching for the perfect torture machine, capable of bringing the purest form of pain to any face, and so show the world the terrible consequences of serving the Devil. With the engineer’s invention, a machine known as “El Semblante” (“Facie”), a terrifying torture chair, achieving that objective seems a foregone conclusion. But Elena, the engineer’s daughter, has other plans…

The short screened at Fantasia International Film Festival this summer and will continue in festivals.  Facies (El Semblante) is an Eye Slice Pictures and Carlos Moriana Production, with Ingedda as associate producer. Distribution is being handled by Distribution with Glasses.

Source: 55 Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantastic de Catalunya, Eye Slice Pictures, Distribution with Glasses

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