This Spanish black comedy, written and directed by Caye Casas and Albert Pintó, opens with a bearded dwarf (Eduardo Antuña) blocking a remote road on New Year’s Eve … and issuing a prophecy to a family who then meet a terrible fate, establishing his supernatural bona fides … though it’s still hard for his next human playthings (and the audience) to accept this shabby, hooded, impish creature’s claim to be God.
As they prepare a ton of Spanish omelette, pathologically jealous Carlos (Emilio Gavira) needles his plus-size wife Ana (Itziar Castro) over a suspicious text message she’s received from her boss (signed off with ‘mwah’), and eventually forces her to admit that she has indeed been unfaithful, casting a pall over the New Year’s meal they’re sharing with his sometimes-suicidal brother Santi (Boris Ruiz) and ailing father (David Pareja). When God arrives, he tells the quartet that at dawn the human race will be almost completely wiped out, but the four of them can select two representative people to survive. The family go along with this cruel charade, arguing and voting and coming to no easy or happy solution, with characters not liking to own up to their selfish instinct to survive at others’ expense. When they notice that their guest bleeds and can probably therefore be killed, the hosts wonder whether an act of deicide might avert the apocalypse.
It’s a theatrical conceit, cooping up five vivid, grotesque characters in an old house for a long night of sinister shenanigans – with joky but quite daring theological asides. Gavira and Castro are delicious as tormented/tormenting husband and wobbly/yearning wife locked in a dysfunctional relationship which has ruined their lives to such an extent that it takes them a while even to consider the implications of the end of the world, though it makes perfect sense to them that God is a wretched little trickster creep – and Antuña is splendid as the worst possible divine being, a Pinteresque tramp commingled with Rumplestiltskin. The characters are potentially shrill, but the performances keep just the right side of obnoxiousness – so that even the awful Carlos, who has taken years to drive his frankly unlovely wife to betray him with her kindly boss, has a pathetic side that makes him pitiable rather than simply hateful. Things take a macabre, farcical turn when the family finally come together to work on something – plotting the murder of God – and the plot pans out ruthlessly, delivering a surprisingly affecting sun-up finish that also delivers the worst possible outcome for all parties.