Mani (Mapi Romero) is first introduced to the screen as a heroine addict and whore, who furnishes her pimp boyfriend with a gun then joins him in a botched hold-up at the local pharmacy.
The comical robbery takes a dark turn when the police turn up and a shootout ensues. Fleeing the scene in a stolen car, Mani is arrested when her boyfriend crashes the vehicle and dies.
Two years later, Mani is released from prison - and is desperate to track down her sister.
In her apartment, Mani smashes her TV after being incensed by an interview with heavy metal star Belcebu (writer/director/producer Sergio Blasco). He is accused of inciting several suicides on his last album - but remains unrepentant in the face of his critics.
Presumably wanting the money to do more with her life than sit in front of a broken TV, Mani takes to the streets and meets up with old friend Loli, who welcomes her back into the business of prostitution.
Meanwhile, Mani's new neighbour Angel has just started working as a reluctant cameraman for a bunch of pornographers whose work is financed by Belcebu.
For a time, BELCEBU races along episodically as we follow the seemingly disparate lives of Belcebu, Mani and Angel. Angel is awkward around shooting pornography but slowly starts to enjoy it as the things he witnesses become increasingly depraved; Belcebu is ultimately an exploited musician tired with men in suits telling him what to do; Mani is a woman determined to confront her past and right the wrongs committed against her sister ...
Oh, I should mention at some point that Belcebu is visited by a demon (who manifests into a very sexy naked chick!) promising unconditional fame and fortune ... in return for his soul ...
BELCEBU is quite enjoyable, if insubstantial and ultimately too silly for it's own good. It's filled with quirky characters and dark, sexually dubious humour that's reminiscent of early Almodovar in places. Alex De La Iglesia's work also springs to mind too, in the more comedic moments. But Blasco, for all his good intentions, is no De La Iglesia or Almodovar.
Romero carries the film with a warm, understated performance that addresses the balance with all the gurning, OTT theatrics on offer from the remainder of the cast. Romero's cute too (perhaps not so when she falls back into addiction in the film's pitch-black second half), and that definitely helps!
For much of it's running time, BELCEBU is essentially a black comedy based around the notion that talking frankly about sex - and showing the occasional softcore depiction of sex - will shock between the schoolboy-style giggles. It tries to be wacky, and comes across as stupid. And a little bit, well, cold.
The final act then spirals into an inferno of cheesy gore, pentagrams, black masses, debauched sexual acts (of course) and an obligatory twist.
The screener disc I watched offers the film in non-anamorphic 1.85:1, and was graced with a reasonably sharp, bright picture. The Spanish 2.0 audio was problem-free.
Forced English subtitles had been provided for the screener disc, and although easy to read were riddled with typos and bad grammar. All of which provided an unintentional comedy of it's own!
It looks like SBP's official release will carry a few extras, but alas they were not made available for the screener. These appear to include a gallery, fimographies and "Como se hizo" ...!
Not a bad effort from Blasco, and he certainly shows the potential to develop into a filmmaker of some distinction - but only if he can control that warped humour and grow a heart.
For more information, check out www.sbpcinematograficas.com.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by SBP Cinematograficas|
|Region All - PAL|
|see main review|