The Night Of The Virgin


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Night Of The Virgin
"The strongest scene is the first one, where Sebastián shows us what he can do as a filmmaker when not distracted by a commitment to going over the top."

It’s New Years Eve. Everybody is partying hard. There’s alcohol and fireworks and there seem to be good looking women everywhere. Nico (Javier Bódalo) sees it as the perfect opportunity to lose his virginity. Unfortunately, none of the women he meets seem to agree – until he encounters Medea (Miriam Martín), a glamorous older woman who seems to find his awkward status particularly appealing. But is she after the same thing?

Roberto San Sebastián's cultivated gross-out farce was, according to the director, intended to be as offensive as possible. Much of this humour is, he says, political, so one may need to be Spanish to fully appreciate it. It also revels in literal filth and the spilling of precious bodily fluids of multiple kinds, and it uses language - borrowing words from other languages when Spanish proves insufficiently equipped with derogatory terms - that will have those who are sensitive to such things running for the exit. The problem is, most horror fans don't share such sensitivities; they may shudder at some of the more insensitive celebrity jokes, but they're unlikely to be seriously offended. It's established that Nico lacks social skills. Deeply obnoxious though he is, he's easy to forgive.

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The strongest scene is the first one, where Sebastián shows us what he can do as a filmmaker when not distracted by a commitment to going over the top. When Nico goes back to Medea's apartment and finds it crawling with cockroaches, viewers may be reminded of their own less salubrious one night stands and empathise with our hero's determination to go for it anyway (though they might also wonder how Medea manages to look so elegant when living in a building that seems to be rotting); but when they notice the strange religious ornaments on the sideboards, and the sluice drain in the bathroom, they may start to get more nervous. Then Medea's jealous ex-boyfriend (Víctor Amilibia) barricades the apartment from the outside, and things really start to go pear shaped.

The Night Of The Virgin has proven popular with festivals, including Fantasia, where it's well suited to a late night audience which has already had time to do some drinking. It seems likely to have cult appeal elsewhere among Eli Roth fans and others who simply want to see as much gratuitously gruesome imagery as they can. Beyond this, however, it may struggle. It's far too long, the pacing is weak, and although there's an interesting story in there it gets little room to breathe. Instead, Sebastián relies on attempts at boundary-pushing which don't really succeed in doing anything the genre hasn't seen before.

Reviewed on: 22 Jul 2017
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One New Year's Eve party, Nico, a naive 20-year-old, sets out ready to lose his virginity at all costs. In the middle of the party, his gaze crosses Medea, a cunning and attractive mature woman.

Director: Roberto San Sebastián

Writer: Guillermo Guerrero

Starring: Javier Bódalo, Miriam Martín, Víctor Amilibia, Ignatius Farray, Rocío Suárez, Javi Alaiza

Year: 2016

Runtime: 116 minutes

Country: Spain

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