El Segundo Nombre aka Second Name (2002)

‘What’s in a name?’ Cried one mature sounding 13 year old, in a play some of you might have seen one of the many film adaptations of, or even read a York/Cliff Notes version of in college (It’s not that I’m going out to insult anyone, you understand, it’s just that I have lost faith in the human race in general). Of course, we’d all sound a little more eloquent if Bill Shakespeare was penning every sentence for you before you uttered it, but Juliet had a point there, for from the birth name, to the nom de plume we adopt pretentiously in later life for maximum googlage (it’s a word) on the interweb, the proper noun that people use to address us have a lot of impact on the way the world perceives us, sometimes before they’ve even met us face to face.

I’m sure that Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Mr T, would all have had reasonable successes in their lives had they retained their lovingly chosen monocle bestowed on them by their parents, Stefanie Germanotta, Reg Dwight, and Laurence Tureaud just don’t have the same star power as the made up ones they chose for themselves. Although it doesn’t always work, especially when your special talent involves getting drunk, orange and skanky on camera, Jwoww and Snookie just makes you sound like you’ve made it easier for men to write your names on the back of toilet doors.

Swings and roundabouts eh?

Daniella’s father has committed suicide, and her mother is in the crazy house. While breaking the news to her only living, catatonic parent, her mother is suddenly roused into speech and calls her ‘Josephine’, which understandably causes her daughter to wonder who the hell ‘Josephine’ is, and why her mother wants to talk to her so much. At the same time, her father’s body is stolen, and eventually found desecrated in a pseudo Satanic style ritual. Cue a diabetic priest/harbinger of bad juju, overly suspicious, yet inept detectives in comedy attire, and a religious sect that make those Rosemary’s Baby style villains resemble Nanny Mcphee.

Based on the book The Pact of the Fathers by British horror writer Ramsey Campbell, the Spanish adaptation begins crawlingly slow, to the point of excruciation, but slowly morphs into a tense and exceptional thriller, with a sickeningly haunting pay-off. Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s predictable, but it’s an excellent watch if you can stick with the dawdling introduction. Think House of the Devil meets Darkness.

Not perfection, not a classic, but definitely worth a one time watch.

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