In an effort to authenticate, debunk or cover-up miracles, the Catholic Church in cooperation with the Franco Regime produce and release short informational films called ‘No-Dos’ (News & Documentaries). One such film deals with three young girls in a countryside orphanage that claim to speak with The Virgin Mary during prayer. Attracting pilgrims seeking healing from far and wide, the church is horrified to discover that the children are being manipulated by a malicious elemental interested only in spreading disease and death. Unable to rid the house of the dangerous spirit, the orphanage is closed and the affair is promptly covered up.
Decades later the empty mansion is renovated and rented to a young couple with a newborn looking to start a new life after the tragic death of their first child. Capable of seeing and conversing with the spirit of her first child, Francesca begins having terrifying encounters with the spectral children that still reside within the house. Her husband Pedro is unconvinced that what she claims to be seeing is real and he sends their baby off to his parent’s home for safe-keeping, worried that Francesca may be having a lapse in sanity.
Francesca decides to call on a psychologist and priest, upon the advice of an old woman connected to the home, with experience in the supernatural. Father Miguel agrees to come to the mansion and investigate despite misgivings and he to becomes convinced something resides within the walls of the old building. Armed with the truth revealed by the No-Do, Francesca and Pedro attempt to dig deeper into the mystery of the three girls but Miguel knows more than he’s willing to admit and that dark secret may damn them all. Some miracles are good, others are bad, and some just come back to haunt you.
I was able to catch director Elio Quiroga’s La hora fria (The Cold Hour), an interesting little horror/sci-fi/post-nuke film, awhile back and knew right away that he had the chops to make some solid genre cinema. I took note of the next production he was working on and and swore I’d check it out…and then I promptly lost track of this film and its progress. Too many “must-see” films and so little time, you know?
No-Do (now called The Haunting) is a creative, riveting and beautifully lensed supernatural thriller but it has a few issues that interested readers might want to take note of. For starters it’s an incredibly dense, sub-plot heavy story that constantly cuts from one sequence to the next with no fluid transitions. I’m all for using a little logic to maintain your bearings but I found it a bit jarring as the film hops, skips and jumps from three present-day sub-plots to two in the past, back and forth. It was clever at times but I can easily see this shaking less-than-patient or attentive viewers just looking for some cheap scares.
In my opinion the clips that were created for this film were brilliant, the CG was top-notch work and the role the Catholic Church played in the investigation and dissemination of the miraculous information contained in the No-Do was fascinating as well. This was a wonderfully inventive and occasionally startling film but not at all ‘scary,’ even with such an original supernatural entry most of this felt very “been there, done that.” Not at all bad, well worth renting, just remember to pay close attention and be prepared to tie up the loose ends on your own. It wasn’t until a few hours after the film was over did the entire film really come into focus for me.