The Nameless (1999) - Writer director Jaume Balaguero ( Who directed both excellent [Rec] movies) gives us a story of a secret group creating pain for other in the hope it will be ecstasy for them. A six year old girl's mutilated body is found, the police identify her from a bracelet she found nearby and the fact she birth defect of one shorter leg. They tell the parents and the grieving begins. Five years later the Mother of the girl, Claudia (Emma Vilarasau) is still heartbroken, now divorced from her husband she still lingers in her daughters room(shrine) and is not functioning well in her job as an author/book editor. She receives a phone call from someone claiming to be her daughter asking for her help. What? Her daughter Angela is alive and needs her help? Is someone playing a cruel game with Claudia? Oh you can count on that and the fact that no parent would not act on such a call. Following some pretty vague clues, Claudia with the help of ex policeman Massera (Karra Elejalde) who was on the case when the girl disappeared. They soon start to discover a strange group of cultists called the Nameless. This group studies and wants to experience enlightenment through the pain of others. They seek to create acts of cruelty and agony in there victims and then rejoice in the pain it created. Supposedly this could have been the group that killed the little girl and after seeing in the early scenes the gruesome body of the child you can believe it.
This film takes quite a bit of time to get to anything and the slow pace will turn some people off. Cladia and Messera get one small clue after another and slowly get an understanding of this group, but because it is so secret and anyone could be involved they need a contact from within the group. Also helping is Quiroga (Tristan Ulloa) a reporter for a gossip mag who gets involved in finding the "Nameless" group. They find an abandon hotel that the group may be holding the girl with Quiroga getting there first, but his end is set in stone since he arrives alone. When Claudia and Massera arrive, he enters first and has her wait in the car. Now I am sure you have all watched this scenario before, does the waiting person ever just stay in the vehicle? She follows and ends up face to face with her daughter, but her little girl is changed. The ending is unexpected but makes sense to the idea of creating agony. It took a very long time to get to that point and I am not sure the payoff is there.
The film certainly has some issues. The idea that people getting off of acts of mutilation is disturbing and besides the early scene where the girls body is found shown and described it is not seen in the movie, there is some box cutter slicing of one of the characters but it is mild compared to the horrors this group represents. So if this is a film about the horrors of this group it is really not backed up. All of the clues are small and really not good connections to this secret group but they arrive at the right time. The only reason they get to the final showdown is because they are part of a master pan by the group to do the most harmfully shocking act yet. The final issue is it takes a long time to get there and some viewers may be turned off by the three quarter mark of the movie.
The film does a nice job at looking at the grief process and how it affects those in it. The couple splits after the little girls body is found, Claudia five years later is still not functioning well in the world, adding to the effect is the cinematography using a grayed out slate of colors. Massera connects with Claudia in this after losing his wife and unborn child in childbirth just a year earlier. They know the feelings of loss and sadness each other is feeling and it is well portrayed in the film.
When all is said and done I would still recommend this film. Although it drags a bit and the premise is a bit weak at its core, I think the acting is very good and although at time telegraphing the music is wonderfully effective. So if you can sit through the slow build you can at least be a bit surprised by the ending and come away with a decent film experience.
Rating (5.1) 5.0 and up are Recommended In the Zombiegrrlz rating system Rent It!