A long anticipated Spanish horror for me, with a strange name and great cast, Shrew's Nest lived up to my expectations. Spanish love residential chillers, and this one proved to be no exception. With one twist, it's centered around agoraphobic woman and her younger sister, their relationship and turmoil, which will lay foundation for grief to come.
Macarena Gomez plays the role of troubled Montse, left to care and provide for her much younger sister after their parents have passed away, a bit too early. She has a severe case of agoraphobia, heightened by her overwhelming guilt which is not rooted 'in nomine patris' only but also her difficult childhood made unbearable by her strict, religious father. The father, played by ever malevolent Luis Tosar sometimes appears as a hallucination, a superego, relentless critic during Montse's attacks and crisis.
Catholic upbringing, the conservative, post war 50s and Montse's strange illness are bread and butter of the story. Macarena Gomez plays the demanding role well, she is sometimes OTT but from her every move, obsession or thought her past and fixations shine through.
Some might argue this is a Spanish version of Misery, misery is plentiful indeed, and indeed the main character displays some traits that are very 'out there'. The lead actress reminded me more of Bette Davis than Kathy Bates, in all honesty, as she had displayed certain mannerism but the familiar facial features as well.
How do you play agoraphobic - turned psychotic, anyway? These areas of human behavior and neurotic disorders have seldom been successfully caught on film. I can name but two others, but here it serves a vessel to tell the story and paint the character's background. Montse's acting out might seem 'loco' and far-fetched. She has much bigger problems than being unable to leave the house, though, her rage and high strung personality affects her sister, 'la nina' whose name we don't get to learn, herself and everyone she comes in contact with.
But suddenly, Montse meets a man, wants out, she wants love but the superego - eternal critic - has 'forbidden' her to live so she built giant coffin out of their apartment and buried herself in it. By pure chance and 'courtesy' of the nextdoor neighbor, Montse takes a glimpse at the world she has forsaken and abandoned, he reminds her of the possibility of love, desire and a will to free herself, but these new found urges come with a price: and she may be too far gone for normal life.
The cinematography? Well, it is Spanish, isn't it? Only top notch visuals, and great atmosphere awaits you here. Drama - like qualities get abruptly interrupted by the violence and gore, very nice and somewhat shocking scenes get things going and escalating after a relatively slow build.
This is a tale about shrews, mole - like rodents who live their life away from the spotlight and stay hidden from the public eye. And the overwhelming grief that has turned destructive for everyone involved. 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.'