Ropes (2020)

Director: José Luis Montesinos

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Paula del Río, Miguel Ángel Jenner, Jordi Aguilar, Ana Terrasa, Irene Terrasa, Espiona el Perro

Opening on the side of the road, we see a car parked, and roses left in memoriam. Commemorating the death of her sister, Elena (Paula del Río) has been taken to a country house by her father. A young quadriplegic, she's aided by Athos, a German Shepherd service dog. After contracting a strange disease, Elena's helper becomes her worst nightmare.

Even before the horrific events, it's clear that Elena is hurting. She's haunted by her sister's passing, and has closed herself off from others, not even giving Athos a chance. This inner pain is wonderfully captured by Paula del Río, who conveys the characters regret and self-loathing very well. All too familiar with those feelings is Elena's father, Miguel, who turned to the bottle when his wife passed away. Drawing on past hurt, he attempts to connect with Elena, and guide her through these overwhelming feelings. Miguel Ángel Jenner puts a touching portrayal into the role, who you believe just wants to help his daughter however he can.

This is put on the backburner, though, when an infected bat causes Athos to turn vicious, and Elena is trapped within the house. Disregarding the plot's unintentional relevance to 2020, co-writer and director José Luis Montesinos has crafted a tense plot, bringing to mind the works of Hitchcock crossed with Stephen King's Cujo. Man's best friend is transformed into a vicious nightmare, as the film wrings every last drop of tension out of the plot's limited location.

Having to protect herself from a threat lurking outside, Elena must find a way to keep herself secure. Acting as barriers are the depleting battery to her wheelchair, and the limited use of her arms, to which salad tongs become a necessity. Breaking things up are dream sequences, which give vivid shape to our lead's inner demons, occurring in emotionally revealing ways. Adding onto her troubles is a very human worry, and one wishes this element was woven into the plot more smoothly. As it stands, this unfortunately feels like a tacked-on addition. In spite of this, the stakes are assuredly raised in this down to Earth tale of survival.

Ropes is available on Digital Download from 19th November