Jorge Olguín’s La Casa revolves around Casona de Quinta Normal in Chile, which was been associated with paranormal events for decades…even after it was converted to a community center.
Which sounds like a really interesting thing to make a movie about, except that La Casa isn’t really about Casona de Quinta Normal, not really, more so than the director using it – and it’s ghosts – as a vehicle to exorcise spirits of the psyche.
The psyche in question belongs to Officer Arriagada (Gabriel Cañas, who also executive produced) who’s assigned to patrol the neighborhood where the house resides.
So far, so good (particularly the opening, which firmly establishes the house and it’s history via old television news reports (which look pretty genuine) relatively quickly and = feels vaguely like a found-footage movie in it’s execution.
Though about the time the movie reaches the half way mark is when I realized that, despite it being better than most movies of it’s ilk, that it’s missing something, which becomes abundantly clear when you hear Arrigada call his precinct house for backup (due to the weird phenomena that has been plaguing him since he arrived).
The voice on the other end of the walkie-talkie tells him that they can’t send help for forty minutes, due to having to maintain barricades in another part of the city.
I suspect that this refers to instability caused when Chile’s democratically elected government was overthrown by an American-back coup in the early 1970’s (which is when I believe that the movie takes place).
And I while could be wrong – though I doubt it – the movie never tells you what’s going on in the country in a larger context that has direct bearing on why the policemen are spending time manning barricades, as opposed to coming to his aid. This lack of information begins to snowball when without it we don’t quite understand what officer Arrigada did what he did to bring the wrath of the ghosts down upon him in the first place (beyond “movie” that is).
Which is a pity because it’s better than most haunted house movies, despite owing a small debt to James Wan’s The Conjuring movies in the design of one of it’s supernatural antagonists) though if the historical context that the movie was supposed to exist in were made more clearer it would have been even more powerful (though to be fair it was also not made for American consumption, so perhaps a Chilean viewer would better understand the context without more information).
And before I forget, thanks to Dread Central for the opportunity to see La Casa prior to general release.