Fantastic Fest Review: The Invisible Guest
Locked room mystery is a nail-biter
By Ashley Moreno,
12:00PM, Fri. Sep. 23, 2016
The trick to a good mystery: Nod to the audience with beloved tropes, but still find a way to keep everyone guessing. No big secret, but also no easy task – especially if it’s an audience of seasoned genre fans. Cue genre provocateur Oriol Paulo.
This year’s Fantastic Fest opened with the U.S. premiere of writer/director Paulo’s (director/co-writer of The Body and co-writer of Julia’s Eyes) latest mystery-thriller, The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo.) The film tells the story of Adrián Doria (Mario Casas), a man with everything who suddenly lands in a tough spot. His skyrocketing career, his beautiful wife, his wonderful family – it all comes crashing down when he wakes up in a hotel room with the body of his dead mistress, Laura (Bárbara Lennie.) It’s just like a schoolyard riddle. He swears he didn’t do it, but no one saw anyone go in or out, the door is chained from the inside, and all the windows are sealed. It looks bad. Real bad. The story then unfolds as he works with members of his legal team to tease out the nights’ events and build a believable defense.
There’s much to recommend the film. For one, it looks gorgeous. It has a lovely monochromatic color scheme full of simple, tight shots contrasted against flyovers of Spanish mountains and forest roadways. The scenes move expertly between present day and Doria’s recounting, which gives the film a fluid feel. And, like any good thriller, it’s tense (TENSE!) right up to the end. Mystery fans will love it and all its mystery tropes, which of course made it a great choice for Fantastic Fest. But it could have easily opened another festival as there’s plenty for the less frequent genre flyers. In particular: The clever (and at times funny) tête-à-tête between Dario and his primary defense attorney. She needs more details to build a believable defense, but for some reason Dario seems less-than-forthcoming. That he’s a bit tightlipped might not surprise you. The rest of the film will.
The Invisible Guest screens again Tuesday, Sept. 27, 5:30pm.