THE NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN **** Spain 2016 Dir: Roberto San Sebastian. 116 mins
A 21st century splatter movie of escalating lunacy, the feature debut for Roberto San Sebastian cleverly invokes and subverts an array of familiar mainstream horror tropes. At heart, it’s a wilfully perverse spin on the American teen comedy premise of a hopeless male protagonist on a desperate mission to lose his virginity – here meshed with a nightmarishly claustrophobic yet hilarious spin on the common 80’s AFTER HOURS plot of the ordinary guy unwittingly wandering into a single night of urban chaos. The hopeless, gawky virgin in question is sweaty, rat-faced Javier Bodalo, whose miserable New Year’s Eve failing to get a shag ends with him lured back to the apartment of a middle-aged woman worryingly named “Medea”.
Things do not bode well when it becomes apparent that she keeps her menstrual blood in a pot in the bathroom. This largely two-handed descent into Takashi Miike-levels of madness – wittily set against the pulsing beat and heckling neighbours of the biggest party night of the year – sees all hell breaking loose for our hero while everyone else is too busy getting wasted or fucking to care. Bodalo sustains an astonishing pitch of borderline hysterical as his night transforms from a desperate craving for unobtainable sex to recoiling in horror from violent sexual demands. Sebastian takes the standard American teen comedy’s obsession with bodily fluid gags to its zenith, showering the screen with cum, projectile blood / shit, accidental wanking to deformed baby photographs and vaginal penetration via mobile phones. It’s overlong and exhausting, but also magnificently demented – and the centrepiece is a genuinely painful “birth” sequence that may be unprecedented in its singular focus on the excruciating, screaming ordeal of a male protagonist.
Review by Steven West