In honour of the fact it's Friday 13th (and as such a time traditionally reserved for misfortune and unpleasantness), and also as an accompaniment to Cigarette Burns’ special screening of creepy Spanish horror Who Can Kill A Child? at the Rio Cinema tomorrow, here’s the 1972 made for TV short La Cabina, another fantastic and unique bit of Spanish weirdness that managed to achieve a minor bit of notoriety in the UK when it was shown on TV in the eighties.
Much like Forklift Driver Klaus, the first entry in the Short Fridays series, La Cabina would be shown in the wee hours on Channel 4 seemingly at random with little in the way of advance promotion. While it’s obviously great that all these films are freely available on YouTube now, I do envy insomniacs in the eighties who would stumble upon them late at night with just the right level of susceptibility: sleep-deprived, mentally and emotionally vulnerable, looking to be soothed and relaxed by the idiot box and therefore perfectly positioned to be utterly freaked out by them.
Also similar to Klaus, La Cabina makes a point of not showing its hand too early – it lulls you into a false sense of security, making you think you know what you’re watching ut really you have no idea. Of course Klaus takes its big left turn into OMGWTFBBQ laugh-out-loud Evil Dead –style insanity, whereas La Cabina’s approach is very different.
This slow-burn style of horror is becoming increasingly rare, as most modern entries tend to start big and noisy and scary and just stay at that level for ninety minutes. I watched The Birds the other day and was staggered by the first hour, in which barely any birds appear and the tone of the film is more screwball comedy-cum-romantic drama, with no indication of the horrors that are about to befall its pristine characters. I suppose the closest modern film to trick you in this way is Takeshi Miike’s Audition, and we all know how much of an effect that had on people.
No more should be said on La Cabina. It’s long, but it's really a superbly made film, and well worth your time. Turn the lights out, sit back, and thank God for the invention of the mobile phone…