Sadrac González-Perellón (as Sadrac González)
It is strange enough that this low budget stylish Spanish horror suspense thriller that cost 1.5 million euros to make got distribution here while many Canadian features do not. The plot is even stranger.
The story unfolds in Chapters that last approximately 20 – 25 minutes each. The first Chapter is called the Cube. A girl, 13-year old Alice (Lowena McDonell) lives secluded in a house in the woods with the only company of her father (Julian Nicholson) and a wolfhound finds among the trees a mysterious cubic device with the ability to change the past. She can also lie inside the cube that can open and close. The wolfhound can speak using a device tied around her neck. Alice converses to her as if the dog was her mother, which her father denies it to be. Whether or not the fact is true, the wolfhound offers advice to Alice throughout the film.
Writer/director González-Perellón’s film opens at a snail’s pace. It requires of the audience a lot of patience, also because not much sense can be made of the plot. Many questions are posed at the start: Why does Alice despise her father? Why does she have a prosthetic (bionic) arm? Why are they living in a modern accommodation right in the middle of the woods? What is their past?
Just before any of these puzzles can be solved, Chapter 2 appears entitled The Strangers. Two strangers arrive, a teen girl, Erika (Haydee Lysander) beaten up and her mute brother, Paul (Marc Puiggener). Again, more questions are posed with their arrival: Who are they? Where do they come from? Why is Erika all bruised? To complicate matters, father has a crush on Erika and invokes Alice’s anger when he strokes her hair in from of the dog, that Alice still insists is her mother.
González-Perellón ups the angst with the third chapter called The Listening. The cube (that opens) instructs Alice to listen to her headphones in front of a black clock at 4 o’clock. Which she does. She is told to let her father out of the house, to kill Paul, and then her sister. She refuses to succumb to the instructions but later, as the cube can change the past, decides to kill Paul… with disastrous results that lead the film to its climax. There is another chapter.
To González-Perellón’s credit, the film does keep the audience guessing as to what is it that all the events are about. When the explanations are revealed, the result is disappointing as the explanations make no sense. except for some excuse to create an adventure around a modern house in the woods.
Going back to the first paragraph of the review, the strangest of it all is after watching the entire film is the realization that BLACK HOLLOW CAGE is one nasty, pointless violent little film that is a waste of time.