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Miramax Pictures presents
The Nameless (Los Sin nombre) (1999)

"My daughter is dead!"
- Claudia (Emma Vilarasau)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 27, 2005

Stars: Emma Vilarasau, Karra Elejalde
Other Stars: Tristán Ulloa, Brendan Price, Carlos Lasarte, Pep Tosar, Judith Tort, Jessica Del Pozo
Director: Jaume Balaguero

MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images, graphich nudity and language
Run Time: 01h:39m:41s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 786936285970
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B-BA- D-

DVD Review

The Nameless (Los Sin nombre) is a dark and moody thriller, an early Spanish work from Darkness director Jaume Balagueró based on a story by prolific English horror author Ramsey Campbell. It opens with the grisly discovery of the dead body of a tortured six-year-old girl, mutilated beyond recognition; it is grim stuff, and the subsequent post-mortem exam is no less disturbing, serving as a quick indication that The Nameless is not going to be a safe, run-of-the-mill suspense thriller, but that Balagueró is going to move into some very unpleasant places.

And that he does.

Police detective Bruno Massera (Karra Elejalde) is left to inform the parents of a missing child that the body is believed to be that of their daughter Angela, based solely on a bracelet and a deformity in one of her legs, the only thing that the sadistic killer could not completely destroy. The story then jumps ahead five years, Massera has been booted off the force, the parents have long since divorced, and the mother Claudia (Emma Vilarasau) is still understandably distraught over her daughter's death. That is until a phone call comes from a girl claiming to be Angela.

Ex-cop Massera and Claudia form an accidental detective team, as they begin probing some case inconsistencies and vague clues that lead them along the dark side of a theological path, about a deadly secret society, a disturbing para-religious belief in sadistic torture and the search for the unknown members of the titular group who claim to be using "horror as purification" in order to achieve some demented form of deviant sainthood. The film begins dark, and builds to a perfectly horrifying climax—maybe a bit unclear for some who like things explained more explicitly—but it is a satisfying and unpleasant experience at the same time.

This is obviously Se7en-era Fincher territory for Balagueró, and he seems to have no trouble chalking up an effectively creepy looking film that is dank, ugly and spooky when it needs to be, and chillingly bleak when the mood shifts. Much like the influx of modern Asian horror, Balagueró shows an eye for what looks scary. The story falters in the final act (as does Campbell's story), but it does the one thing I love, which is to play against the rules that most domestic thrillers go by, and for Balagueró that means anything goes.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Balagueró's film has been issued in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a generally nice piece of work from Miramax, aside from the presence of white specking that indicates this one hasn't been through any major cleanup. This isn't a bright film by any means (even daylight scenes get strong pushes of dark hues), and colors tend to be intentionally downplayed, with a reliance on lots and lots of shadows. To its credit, black levels hold their own, revealing what Balagueró wants to reveal when he wants to reveal it.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Miramax has included the original Spanish language track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, and a better-than-average English dub offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. What to choose is a tough decision, and as much as I normally steer clear of dubs when I have a chance, I was surprised at how well the voices matched the mouth movements, and only in a few scenes did it seem particularly discordant. The enticement is the 5.1 mix, which is a real sub rumbler, so deep that I actually had to turn mine down a couple of notches. Fine use of rear channels, and though the Spanish track is fairly moody on its own, the broader 5.1 mix significantly ratchets up the audio goosebumps.

Creepy.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cursed, Darkness
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: No extras except for a pair of trailers. The disc is cut into 20 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

To dovetail onto the release of Balagueró's Darkness, Miramax has trotted out an earlier work by the Spanish director. It's a dark one alright, high on grim talk and disturbing images, and the obvious Fincher comparisons seem well deserved.

Somewhat vaporous in the story department, but a damn creepy journey.

 


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