The first in the subtitled horror movies (and followed in subsequent weeks with The Host, Trollhunter and Let The Right One In), this was a neat little Spanish film I had never heard of. It’s an interesting journey into time-travel-gone-wrong and the nature of causality, which starts out kind of lightly funny and turns horror/thriller, then finally just horror. Our hero is Hector (Karra Elejalda), a pudgy, middle-aged man who’s moving into a new house. While taking a break from his efforts, he spies something across his (large) yard, in the woods.
The “something” he spies is a good looking girl (Bárbara Goenaga) taking off her shirt. So he shoos his wife off to the store and tries to see more, because men are dogs. Not being able spy anything, he sneaks across his yard, across the road where some trash is strewn and a bicycle is askew, locating the area where he saw the girl. It is at this point, a lumbering figure with his face wrapped in a bloody bandage begins to chase him.
One thing the kids really liked was that Hector is out of shape, so he’s not really great at running. He’s often out of breath after a little bit. Somehow, though, his bandaged pursuer never catches up to him.
This may be a little bit spoiler-y, so if you’re spoiler-sensitive, you may want to stop reading. The Flower spotted it right away, as did I. Indeed the title sort of gives a big hint.
OK, forewarned is forearmed and all that.
He is, of course, being pursued by himself. The pursuit leads him into some sort of research building where he’s lured by a young scientist (the director, Nacho Vigalondo) into hiding into this vat full of goop. The goop closes on him and when he comes out, it’s morning…of the same day. And this is where things start to get hairy. The scientist is shocked to see him, since he had only powered the machine on for an (unauthorized) test, and now Hector must wait out the day without changing anything. There’s some murky stuff going on, as Hector is troubled to see his wife canoodling with some man, even if that man is himself. Kinda. (The scientist is a little vague on this.)
But at some point he realizes that he must have been a factor in the previous day’s activities and so must be a necessary actor in the events in order to not change anything. And soon we’re seeing all kinds of things that we didn’t quite get on the first pass explained in the second pass—though through a series of bizarre events that Hector must orchestrate. The problem seems to be, though, that he can’t quite get it all exactly the way it was.
That’s where the horror aspect really locks in.
It’s a neat, tidy story with a rather dark ending, which perhaps might also work as a metaphor for adultery (a common theme in Spanish/Latin films) but doesn’t have to, if you don’t want. We all were pleasantly surprised.