Director: José María Cicala
Starring: Maite Lanata, Guillermo Zapata, Mónica Antonópulos, Rita Cortese and Danny Trejo
Emma (Maite Lanata) lives on a farm, isolated from most aspects of modern society. She has a loving father, Gato (Guillermo Zapata), and family around her and everything in her life feels idyllic. Her mother left when she was young and that has left a hole in Emma’s life. One day, when in the local town Emma discovers a phone and uses it to record videos of herself and animals to upload to the internet. Someone discovers them and leaves a comment saying Emma’s mother will be sound glad he found her. Emma, heartbroken that her father has lied to her, leaves the farm in search for her family.
This is a very strange and quirky horror film. It doesn’t focus on gore or scares but building an atmosphere of pure terror and tension. It takes you on a journey into the past of Emma’s parents and the reason Gato took her away. There’s a sinister feeling in the flashback sequences and this moves into the present day as the film progresses.
The tone changes in this film are brilliant. The first act where Emma is on the farm is full of bright colours and happy music. There’s a joyous and funny feel to everything going on. It feels that you’re not watching a horror film, but a life affirming drama about life on a farm. Then when Emma finds the phone that will change her life forever, the rain starts, thunderclaps, the light dims. It’s an instant switch that tells you everything you need to know. The shifts between the light and the dark in this film are extremely well done.
In the opening for this film there is a lot of humour, it really gets you into a false sense of security in the first part for when things go dark later. Even with this, there are little moments that hint something darker is coming and it creates a foreboding and oppressive atmosphere, slowly building tension for the second half of the film. There are a lot of very trippy sequences later on which leave you not completely sure what is going on.
The characters don’t feel very developed in this story. They take a backseat for the quirky and strange tale that is being told. It’s not a very long film and could probably do with a little more building up the characters to really make you feel for them. There are hints of this through flashbacks but just not enough. Danny Trejo is great in it, especially his dance before the final fight.
Shadow of the Cat is a strange film, but it’s definitely original. It’s an entertaining thrilling mystery that builds up nicely. It’s not doing anything spectacular but it is captivating while it lasts.