Sunday, October 22, 2017

THE GLASS COFFIN (2016) DVD review

The Glass Coffin (2016) d. Zubillaga, Haritz (Spain) (1st viewing) 77 min

On her way to receive a lifetime achievement award, acclaimed actress Amanda (Paola Bontempi) finds herself rerouted into a world of humiliation and pain when her limousine is commandeered by a stranger, one with an axe to grind and the means (and desire) to wield it. The cavernous luxury vehicle, the epitome of opulence and privilege, is transformed into the world’s most posh rolling torture chamber, as the increasingly desperate thespian attempts to reason with the disembodied voice (conveyed, appropriately enough, through a voice modulator akin to Saw’s “I want to play a game.”) transmitting through the multitude of widescreen TV screens, as well as the masked chauffeur ready to obey his master’s cruel commands.

In addition to being a tight, streamlined, high-concept thriller, The Glass Coffin (aka El autaud de cristal) also succeeds in pulling off what is essentially a single-character, single-location stunt, and Bontempi and director Zubillaga (and his creative team) unite forces brilliantly in this respect.

Armed with a lean running time (Zubillaga also edited), atmospheric music (Aranzazu Calleja), exquisite production design (Monica Ausin), and sharp cinematography (John D. Dominguez), the only misstep lies in Zubillaga and Aitor Eneriz’s script, which is a few shades vaguer than it needs to be in terms of justifying the viciousness doled out (violence of both a physical and sexual nature). In order for us to buy this as a genuine tale of revenge between Amanda and her antagonist, the crime should fit the punishment, and for my money it never quite gets there, coming off more as an act of sadism rather than a twisted attempt to balance the scales of Fate.

Still, there is much to appreciate in Zubillaga’s feature debut (following a number of acclaimed horror short films) and Bontempi is an astonishing find for U.S. audiences. Here’s hoping they (and all involved) enjoy continued success.

The Glass Coffin is available now on DVD from MVD Entertainment (a bare-bones affair sporting no supplements – a shame for fans who would have liked to know more about the technical expertise and Bontempi’s marvelous performance on display) and can be ordered HERE:


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