Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Book of Stone

El Libro de piedra; horror, Mexico, 1968; D: Carlos Enrique Taboada, S: Marga Lopez, Joaquin Cordero, Norma Lazareno, Lucy Buj

Julia is hired to be a private teacher for a peculiar 10-year old girl, Sylvia, in an isolated mansion. The child's father Eugenio and her stepmother Mariana, warn of Sylvia's weird behavior: she imagines to be playing with Hugo, a statue of a boy in the nearby lake. Strange things start happening, indeed: Julia loses her brooch in the lake, but someone returns it to her; a voodoo doll is found with needles on the exact same place where Mariana feels pain; Carlos tries to get rid of the statue, but dies in a car accident... Julia finds out that Hugo is the son of a witch, who comes to life as a statue, and teaches Sylvia black magic from his book. Eugenio destroys the statue with an axe, but the next day, a statue of Sylvia is found.

One of the more hailed horrors from Mexico, "The Book of Stone" is a good one, though more could have been done from the promising concept: for all its quality, today it seems more like a museum example of a movie. Except for the eerie opening shot of the fog and a few images of the scary, "jinxed" statue, the story is tame - the first half is almost boring, though the suspense does start to slowly rize in the second half - with too much empty walk and ordinary, standard family talk of the worried father about his daughter, whereas some scenes were clumsily directed. The paranormal tangle gives a frequency of unease, with an interesting end, which seems to have been enough for director Carlos Enrique Taboada who did not intend to enrich the straightforward story any more than it was. "Book" needed more imagination, though, yet it has its moments (Carlos wanting to paint near the lake, until he spots that the statue is missing).

Grade;++

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