There are a bunch of well-renowned genre filmmakers floating around in the horrorverse. I can't get to all of them. It's unavoidable. I'm sure that you can relate. Hell, I have a friend who has never seen a David Cronenberg film. Scatological heresy, right? It's easy to bully a fellow nerd who has allowed the works of an accomplished auteur like Cronenberg to pass him/her by (believe me, my friend was scrupulously dragooned), but we're all guilty of omitting certain fan favorites. Me, I've never seen an Alex de la Iglesia film. After watching his latest project, 2010's The Last Circus, I'm adding the rest of his track record to my chopping list.
If his name doesn't ring a bell, Iglesia is responsible for Accion Mutante, The Day of the Beast and Perdita Durango (a.k.a. Dance with the Devil). The Last Circus may seem a bit schlocky, but I can assure you that there is more to it than a circus clown brandishing a machine gun. Obviously, that would make for an amazing motion picture (seriously, that movie should be greenlit pronto), but if you know anything about Iglesia, you know that his stuff appeals to the "art house" crowd. He is incredibly versatile. The Last Circus is a g(h)oulash linking blood-freezing horror, circumstantial comedy, hypnagogic surrealism, "love triangle" hysterics and ruinous tragedy together to form a balustrade of splashy sideshow dementia.
The plot is deceptively simple. A sad clown and a happy clown squabble over the affections of a beautiful aerialist. That doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the perky, industrious script. In terms of pacing, The Last Circus steps on the gas pedal and doesn't brake until the end credits roll. I won't give away specific detours that the story takes, but suffice to say, it's wholly unpredictable. I was transfixed. Why? I cared about the characters. Why? The cast is good. Really, really good. On a sidenote, how hot is Carolina Bang? Yeah, that's her real name. Her parents must have decided a long time ago that they wanted a porn star for a daughter (I know it's her last name, but c'mon, let me have one tasteless joke).
Iglesia was entrusted with a prodigious budget, and it shows. The cinematography is stunning. This is the best-looking film that I've viewed all year. The art direction is immaculate, the scenery is breathtaking and the CGI...well, I didn't care for the CGI. It's okay in small doses (subtle background tweaks, weather effects, etc.), but there is a ridiculous car crash in the third act that made me laugh out loud. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was lifted from Grand Theft Auto. Yikes. That's a trivial complaint, though. The fact is, you need to check out The Last Circus. Alex de la Iglesia is often compared to Guillermo del Toro, and it's not just because they're both Spanish. It's because they're both fat.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:00 PM