My notes on Piedra, papel y tijera (Rock, Paper and Scissors).
‘… and she ends up abandoned, being eaten by her own hamster.’
A three-character drama set (almost) entirely inside a large house, which evokes classic unkind-to-an-invalid horrors like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Misery, but spins its own complicated family drama as three siblings play a nasty game with each other, opening old wounds and carving fresh new ones in the wake of their parents’ deaths.
In Argentina, María José (Valeria Giorcelli) and Jesús (Pablo Sigal) are virtual shut-ins, having nursed their father through a lengthy decline after a suicide attempt that invalidated any insurance policy … and have adopted a policy of ignoring the telephone and any other possible intrusion from the outside. Their half-sister Magdalena (Augustina Cerviño), an actress, arrives from Spain to settle the will – once thrown out of the house, on the say of her stepmother (also now mysteriously dead), she now wants her share of the inheritance, even if it means her half-siblings have to sell up and become homeless. Jesús is making a psycho horror movie on his cam-corder, starring María José – who is obsessively fixated on the character of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and has a hamster called Toto – and seems the more rational of the pair. Magdalena falls – or is pushed – down stairs and wakes up in bed, confined and nursed by her increasingly erratic half-siblings, and tries to play them off against each other.
Some bits of business are mandatory in stories along these lines – the insincere promises and excuses made for not calling in a doctor or allowing the patient the use of her cell phone, wheeling around in a chair working on thwarted escape attempts, moments when the carers display irrational hostility and the terrified victim has no choice but to take it, moments of sympathy for all three characters mitigated by revelations about their nastier secrets. Directors Martín Blousson and Macarena García Lenzi – who co-wrote with Julieta García Lenzi (presumably bringing some bite to a sister act) – keep playing variations on the sub-genre, with a fairytale twist on one of the nastiest moments from the novel Misery, as the situation in the house slides into grand guignol. It’s full of quietly upsetting little details, like the horrible meals Maria José prepares for the bedridden Magdalena, the el cheapo CGI horror movie Jesús is making with minimal equipment (his pitch sounds truly terrible), Jesús’s particularly unsightly hairdo and perkily mean little grin, and the steady drip of details about just how twisted the family has been. Besides the hamster, the cast of characters is expanded by two urns in boxes and a bottled dead baby – all of whom have vital roles to play in the plot.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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