Written by: Adam Vaughn | October 21st, 2020
32 Malasana Street (“Malasaña 32”) (Albert Pintó, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Spanish filmmaker Albert Pintó (Killing God) releases his latest, chilling work of cinema with 32 Malasana Street, a film that succeeds in shocking the audience with jump scares and frightening imagery. While Pintó is able to capture the essence of cinematic horror conventions, his newest film never rises above them to deliver an especially original tale, relying instead on the clichés and plot points of previous films within the genre. With a point-for-point script that’s a tad too easy to predict, 32 Malasana Street falls on the side of the unoriginal, with neither unique nor outstanding storytelling.
The film tells the story of a family moving to an apartment in Madrid, Spain, escaping a painful past from their previous home in the countryside. But shortly after moving, they realize that the house has dark, haunting secrets of its own, which threaten the lives of each and every family member, one by one. Can the family survive and overcome the dark, paranormal forces that await them in their new home?
The premise of 32 Malasana Street remains simple enough, which overall works in the film’s favor. The various family members are well performed, and the general direction from Pintó does the film credit. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to save the movie from a highly predictable script, with little to no efficient story development, as it relies on jump scares and some gripping-but-unmemorable horror imagery and sound design to carry the film across. The plot’s logic and starts to falter as the film continues, and the final reveal is less than satisfying, seemingly thrown in as justification, rather than bringing the film together.
Admittedly, the film does have the tension and scares needed to drive the story, and the production design keeps the aesthetic interesting. The cinematography and lighting create an effective, creepy tone, and Pintó occasionally manages to devise some clever and effective composition that truly chills the viewer. And to top off the horror constructs, makeup and effects give the film the intensity needed to keep the scariness going.
But with all the thrills and scares, 32 Malasana Street devolves into confusing, overused, and thrown-together thematic content, leaning on characters conveniently established to give the film a cohesive ending, never bringing us on an exceptionally evocative narrative. It is clear that Pintó pulls inspiration from earlier horror movies, and wields their cinematic conventions for cheap effect, never truly connecting with anything other than the viewer’s “edge of their seat” nerves, rather than their emotions.