I wasn't sure what to watch for my instant watch selection this time around. Netflix has been a little weird in showing me which films I have in my DVD queue can also be found on instant watch. Sometimes it shows a play button, but most of the time it won't. On the rare time it did show the button, I discovered that Para Elisa (2012) had been added to instant watch. I had added it to my saved section of my DVD queue after seeing a trailer for it. It wasn't available on either instant watch or DVD at that time. Since I have been curious about it, I decided now would be a good time to check it out.
Ana (Ona Casamiquela) is looking for a job after she can't get money out of her mother for a trip everyone she is graduating with is going on. Her boyfriend Alex (Jesús Caba), who doesn't come across as a very nice guy, spots a sign and calls the number for her. Ana finds out that the job is for a nanny for one kid and figures it will be easy money. She heads off to meet with Diamantina (Luisa Gavasa), an elderly woman who seemingly hits it off with Ana. They talk about what Ana is going to college for, about her daughter and even plants. Eventually she takes Ana to meet her daughter Elisa (Ana Turpin). Elisa turns out to be somewhere around Ana's age, but she acts much younger. Soon though, Ana finds herself trapped there and is now Elisa's doll.
Para Elisa is a movie from Spain and was written and directed by Juanra Fernández. As I said, I was very curious about Para Elisa once seeing the trailer. It reminded me of a cross between Misery and babysitting, which is pretty much what it ends up being. There was a scene dealing with legs that especially reminded me of this combo, even though it was done a bit differently. The movie is short, clocking in at 75 minutes. Throw in some long credits and end credits, and it becomes even shorter. The story takes its time to build up despite the short run time. I was fine with this, but felt more time could have been added to flesh out the characters a bit more than was given. Fernández does a good job giving us some details, but it still would have been nice to have gotten more. Once Ana becomes captive, things were surprisingly tame, at least to me. Diamantina and Elisa aren't right in the head obviously, and I think Elisa truly wants to care for someone, not hurt them. With this being a horror movie though, you know that isn't going to work out. Elisa has here moments where she flips out and becomes violent, but I guess I was just expecting more of than than we are given. Alex, by all accounts, isn't a nice guy at all. Even the police seem to know he isn't. Because of this, it was a big surprise to see him leading the charge to try and find out what happened to Ana. Since the story is taking place over one day and night, no one believes Alex that his gut feeling of something bad happening to Ana is true.
There isn't too much to be found as far as special effects go. All violence, what little there is of it, happens mostly off screen. We do get to see a severed arm and some makeup to show some hammer blows, but that is as far as things go. Some blood to be found, as you can see from the movie poster above, but again, nothing major. Personally I thought the acting was well done by all those involved. Gavasa and Turpin do a wonderful job as mother and daughter. They made it easy to suspend my disbelief and get into what is going on in the story. Casamiquela's acting was just okay at first, but I felt it improved over time.
A lot of people put down Para Elisa because they felt that Ana made a lot of bad choices once she was being held captive. In truth, Fernández made sure we knew Ana makes a lot of bad choices. I mean, we learn that she is somewhat into drugs, dating her dealer, and for the most part puts up with Alex who sleeps around and threatens damn near everyone he meets. Even so, I'm not sure what some folks expected Ana to do. Could Ana have gone on her own murder spree? Sure, but how often do you actually read about that in real life? Besides, it is a little too easy to do that for a film. I didn't find Para Elisa to be a great film, but I thought it was better than average ratings on both IMDb and Netflix show it as. Not by a lot, but still better. While this is a messed up story line, it could have gone even further with that to have really stood out. Perhaps worth checking out if you can watch it on instant watch.
3 out of 5 I would make a great looking doll!