Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Mysterious Death Of Pérola (2014) Film Review
The Mysterious Death Of Pérola
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
An atmospheric fright story, The Mysterious Death of Pérola (A Misteriosa Morte de Pérola) takes on the haunted house premise with Pérola (Ticiana Augusto Lima, who also shares directing, cinematography, and producing duties on the film) residing in an old apartment and becoming increasingly scared because of a man who silently watches her through the window when she is at home. We are given minimal information - we're not told why Pérola is away from home (although she appears to be a student) or that she's in a foreign country (she talks Portuguese on the phone but her lectures and the television she watches are in French) - and the film is essentially an exercise in creating a certain ambiance.
The film is largely dialogue-free. Pérola repeatedly telephones someone who does not pick up, and she is not seen in conversation with anyone - the only voices we hear besides Pérola are the lecturer (who we don't see) and those of the classic French films that the young woman distractedly watches on television late at night. But the foley artists are working overtime with creaking doors and heavy footsteps on stairs - in combination with the heavy-handed score, these sounds are so exaggerated as to become almost comic. They do nonetheless have an accumulative effect and the film successfully develops an increasingly creepy and unnerving atmosphere - the problem is that the filmmakers do not seem to know what to do with it.
The other problem is that the film wears its influences too heavily - most obviously Eyes Without A Face, which is one of the films Pérola watches, and Lost Highway - and ends up feeling generally derivative. For example, not only is the man who menaces Pérola a dead ringer for Robert Blake's character in Lynch's film, but there is also some business with grainy video camera footage showing things that logically cannot be there, and a sequence where one character morphs into another (at least one of whom is played by the film's other director, Guto Parente). As with the exaggerated use of sound, this 'borrowing' from other films is excessive and becomes increasingly grating despite the short running time.
Although the film is admittedly an unsettling affair, its exaggerative and magpie-like tendencies make its weirdness seem like affectation rather than a genuinely different view on the world or the genre.Reviewed on: 03 May 2015
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