Kicking off the latest incarnation of the Austin, Texas based genre bending film festival FANTASTIC FEST, fans got to witness the intense and powerhouse crime thriller THE INVISIBLE GUEST from Spain. As nervous laughs weaved through the theater, the audience was shown great respect by the project as a whole with smart execution, pinpoint timing and just like that fantasy of whichever girl or guy we coven, there is so much more underneath that goes to places we never dreamed of. The film opens with a murder that has happened during a payoff to keep quiet a terrible secret and the events that happen on a back stretch of road. As the police break into the room and see a man over his former lover’s dead body, we meet Adrian, an individual who denies the accusations that he did any of this and claims a mysterious man was in the hotel room. Upon investigating the scene, Adrian is the prime suspect in the investigation that is connected to the terrible accident, a young man’s disappearance, a families’ grief and deception. Sitting his in his apartment after losing his very accomplished life in business as well as his family over the affair, Adrian’s defense attorney hires one of the best defensive minds around, a woman named Ms. Goodfellow to figure out a strategy to get Adrian off of the charge of murder. As the two minds sit across from each other, we see the battle of intelligence and will unfold. We learn with each shade of the truth surrounding these events, facts and perception, there is always more than meets the eye and unlikely evil laying under the surface. It’s incredibly entertaining to see the puzzle come together piece by piece and you find yourself asking “Is Adrian innocent?, Did the victim’s family have something to do with the murder and more? Who is telling the truth?” All questions whose answers leave you completely enthralled, thanks to Spanish writer and director Oriel Paulo and his tale of deception, murder and mystery in THE INVISIBLE GUEST.
Oriol Paulo is a mastermind, a twisted and smart filmmaker that redefines the word perception. I always marvel at filmmakers who can cultivate crime/thriller mysteries. It is a true talent to craft tales with such precision and a true evil that stains the ones who do these terrible things and look to get away with it. THE INVISIBLE GUEST has this in spades, reminding me of the most recent project from fellow Spanish filmmaker Adrian Garcia Bogliano in SCHERZO DIABOLICO. Paulo knows how to manipulate the audience and that manipulation begins right from the beginning and lasting throughout the entire picture, playing out right in front of you as it is taken a part and reassembled over and over again. Paulo directs a superb cast featuring THE BODY’s talented actor Jose Cornonado as the father, Adrian (Mario Casas) and the defense lawyer Ms. Goodfellow (Ana Wagner). Wagner and Casas are incredible as they battle back and forth in one of the sharpest exchange of ideas, suspicions and dialogue I have seen in a crime thriller in quite some time. Using well edited and carefully placed flashbacks, you never grow complacent as each possible set of reasoning and direction towards Adrian’s innocence layers the tension, misdirection and emotion.
THE INVISIBLE GUEST showcases very defining lighting that at times gives glimpses into the shadow of each devil. The film’s echoing score and sound ride the movie like a locomotive, devilishly conducted by Fernando Velaquez that at times absorbs you, at other times crushes you, but no matter what, unleashes emotion that made the audience’s heart thump and your mind being witness to the different perspectives, all questioning the truth as the film rides the logic that in turn, rips you apart. These pillars of masterful filmmaking are joined by a calculating eye of superb cinematographer Xavi Gimenez, whose framing of shots and use of space not only gives a path for the movement of each action, thought and consequence. but offers a canvas for the actors to truly release their talents on this ride of perception and evil. As they say the devil is in the details whether in justice or revenge as a scattered puzzle comes together with tense strings, intelligence and deception in THE INVISIBLE GUEST.