[review by JA Kerswell]
|Party! Party! Party! in the hyperactive Spanish slasher LA CENTRAL.|
LA CENTRAL is an annoyingly shrill Spanish slasher set at a remote house where twelve friends go to party and party - and party some more. And then they do some more partying before a killer mercifully turns up and starts killing them off one by one. The film achieves a modicum of slasher fun in its last 20 minutes, or so, but by that time audiences have probably put cotton wool in their ears or switched off long ago.
Álex (Eduardo Lupo) has invited eleven of his friends to his parents’ remote gothic-style mansion in the woods for a weekend of partying. He says that the house used to be a power station before his parents reformed it. This leads one teen to say for some reason: “I hope it’s not on top of an Indian burial ground.”
After more partying on the lakeside beach, Alex and his friend Tommy (Abril Zamora as Abel Zamora) go to a nearby cliff top and take magic mushrooms. Alex sees something in the woods and appears to fall from the cliff when Tommy is distracted. Alerting his friends, they go looking for Alex but find no trace of him in the woods below the cliffs bar a bloody rag. So, most of the group think it’s a prank and carry on partying - including an ill-advised game of drunken hide-and-seek.
|The group stops throwing their hands in the air long enough to wonder what happened to their friend Álex?|
Then - after what seemed like 642 hours into the film - a killer in a hooded raincoat turns up to break up the party permanently …
Ritalin was clearly in short supply in Spain at the time. These teenagers whoop and holler from the moment we see them hanging out of the cars headed to the remote house. And they just don’t shut up. Waving their hands in the air to often incessant Eurobeat. Just like Sara - the audience is the sober friend trapped at a party full of jabbering, hyperactive drunks. The hyperactivity then just shifts to hysterical sobbing and screaming once the killer turns up. I must admit I stifled a cheer when five were taken out at once by a bizarre booby trap! To make things worse, the film also indulges in casual gay and misogynistic slurs.
Ten years after SCREAM (2006), the shadow of Wes Craven’s film still looms large on THE CENTRAL - albeit in a case of vastly diminishing returns. Complete with the killer’s speech to the Final Girl that gives a motive that manages to be both ridiculous and bland at the same time. On a slightly positive note, the last third of the film presents some passable slasher action - but it is often so poorly lit it is difficult to see what is going on. Plus there’s precious little gore to even help leaven the boredom, with most of the deaths taking place off-screen. The fact that the Final Girl wears a t-shirt with the year 1984 on it suggests the makers were well-versed in 80s slasher movies - it is just a shame they didn’t pay more attention to what made the best of them work.
|The hooded slasher finally turns up in LA CENTRAL, but is it too little too late?|
The film was largely slammed by critics and ignored by audiences. Although, Spanish newspaper El Mundo said that the film was typical genre fayre, but “There is no shortage of explosive girls, some sex and a good handful of scares.” - although quite what they mean by 'explosive girls' is up to anyone's guess!
LA CENTRAL was shot on 35mm in the summer of 2005 around the seaside resort of Maçanet de Cabrenys in Catalonia and at a house that actually used to be a power station. It was shot in the Catalan dialect, which is something of a rarity for Spanish productions.
Marc Velasco (who plays Flipper) went on to have an extensive career - including a small part in THE POPE’S EXORCIST (2023). Abril Zamora, who played Tommy, is now a popular trans female actor who has since starred opposite Sophia Loren in THE LIFE AHEAD (2020).
Sadly, Francesc Giró’s LA CENTRAL is a sugar rush of the worst kid. Nausea-inducing and largely forgettable.
female: 4 / male: 6
1) Male dies after drink being laced with broken glass
2) Male stabbed in the back
3) Male electrocuted
4) Male electrocuted
5) Male electrocuted
6) Female electrocuted
7) Female electrocuted
8) Female killed with axe
9) Female killed with spanner
10) Male shot in chest and throat slit
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