Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 29/08/2021

NOCTURNA: SIDE A – THE GREAT OLD MAN’S NIGHT [FrightFest 2021]

Ulises (Pepe Soriano) is a hundred years old and is getting increasingly confused. He’s lived on the second floor of his apartment building for many years with his wife, Dalia (Marilú Marini), estranged from his children. Dalia is afraid that if they saw the way that they lived, they would put them in a home. As Ulises approaches what will be his last night on Earth, his mind wanders to past regrets and happier times, but he is also disturbed by the sudden suicide of the woman upstairs.

It’s very rare that a film set within the horror genre is so emotionally charged that it’s hard to control the tears from a very early point. Pepe Soriano provides a masterclass of acting with his portrayal of an old man nearing the end of his life. It’s a depiction steeped in dignity, but as fragile as it could possibly be. Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada (Luciferina), alongside cinematographer Claudio Beiza, paints a beautiful picture of a stunning apartment that has seen better days. The choice of viewing angles and camera tricks perfectly convey an atmosphere of decay, but also, surprisingly, of a sombre tranquillity.

The horror elements are almost unneeded, and when they come they are more to disorientate Ulises rather than scare the audience. They are handled well, though, and do provide an air of unpredictability.

It’s not often we say this, but expect to be an emotional wreck by the end of the film.