H6 - Diary of A Serial Killer

H6 - Diary of A Serial Killer


Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

We've had Hannibal Lecter, John Doe, Jigsaw, Leatherface, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees... now comes Antonio Frau.

This Spanish serial killer is a twisted combination of all of Hollywood's greatest psychos - clever, cold, calculating and seriously sick in the head.

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Like Seven's John Doe, Frau (Fernando Acaso) claims to be on a mission from God to rid the world of sinners. In this case, prostitutes. Think Jack the Ripper reincarnated for the modern world.

Frau has just been released from prison after serving 14 years for killing his girlfriend. He has inherited a run-down former brothel from a late aunt, and married Francisca (Maria Jose Bausa), who he met through a dating service and started writing to while inside.

On the surface, he seems reformed. But beneath his quiet, amiable shell lurks a monster. A misogynistic sadist who thinks he is cleaning up the seedy streets he lives in. He lures prostitutes, most of them drug addicts, into his hotel at night - his wife conveniently works nights - where he ties them to a table, tortures and rapes them for days then cuts them into pieces using a chainsaw.

Director Martin Garrido does not shy away from showing Frau's massacres in all their blood-soaked glory. The 21-year-old, first-time film-maker presents some incredibly graphic and stomach-churning shots but they are never there simply for shock value, although the rape scenes are highly disturbing and I had to look away.

But the scenes really help you get under the skin of his killer and how much he enjoys his work as he calmly goes about hacking his victims to pieces. He is not some out-of-control thug. He is smart, dedicated and ruthless. The gorgeous strings-laden soundtrack accompanying these sequences also adds to the chill factor.

Garrido also cleverly gets round Frau's claims he is doing God's work and therefore might evoke some sympathy from viewers. If he was a man of God, he wouldn't get any pleasure from raping them. He wouldn't enjoy torturing them or making them drink his urine. He would simply kill them quickly.

And these are not just the sluts Frau takes them for. Most have suffered hard lives, forcing them into drugs. They are not inherently bad. Frau, on the other hand, seems to be. If anything, his wife Francisca is more of a sinner. She marries him simply to get away from her parents, ignoring his violent past. She is having an affair with a married doctor and helps Frau later when she knows his deadly deeds.

Acaso is superb as Frau. A relative newcomer to film acting, his performance is flawless, his face displaying Frau's pleasure, pain, hatred and eternal calmness. Nothing fazes him, not even serving up Hannibal-style sauteed whore brains to his wife for tea.

The film is supposed to be a critique of the Spanish justice system - light sentences for horrific crimes. I don't want to give away the ending, but Garrido makes his point as brutally as Frau wields his chainsaw. If you can stand the gore - and there is a lot - Frau's diary is worth examining. Just don't do it on a full stomach.

Reviewed on: 22 Feb 2007
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A killer gets out of jail and starts hacking up prostitutes with a chainsaw... all in God's name, of course.
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Chris **1/2

Director: Martín Garrido Barón

Writer: Martín Garrido Barón

Starring: Fernando Acaso, Maria Jose Bausa, Raquel Arenas, Ramon Del Pomar, Martin Garrido, Xenia Reguant, Sonia Moreno, Alejo Sauras.

Year: 2005

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Spain


EIFF 2006

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