The haunted house genre remains one of the oldest staples of horror itself, dating back to things like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”. In a more modern sense, they can challenging to pull off simply because they’ve been done to death (no pun intended).
However with a strong sense of atmosphere, and a whole lot of dread, 32 Malasaña Street manages to keep things fresh, for the most part…
Set in the mid 1970’s, the film sees a Spain that’s still suffering from the tension and anxiety of the end of Francisco’s tyrannical reign over the country.
It’s never mentioned specifically, but all the fear and dread from the supernatural elements almost serve as a metaphor for what many people in Spain were feeling at that time.
We see a multigenerational family moving into the titular home where strange paranormal things begin to happen. These range from strange noises, to a genuinely creepy moment involving a children’s TV show, to full on possession and exorcism.
It runs the full gamut of haunted house movie tropes, which granted isn’t the most original storyline ever. But where 32 Malasaña Street really shines is in its execution.
Director Albert Pintó really crafted something that remains suspenseful throughout. Most of the runtime remains within the fringes of reality, so we’re not sure if these people are just imagining things or if something supernatural is truly taking place. Granted, the third act sort of answers all that for us.
(Minor Spoilers Ahead)
The film explores a really fascinating idea not really seen since The Exorcist III. In that 1990 classic, the Gemini Killer remarks that catatonic people are fun to him because they’re so easy to possess. And he uses this to his advantage when committing murder from beyond the grave.
While 32 Malasaña Street doesn’t contain anything quite like that, it does feature a character with a medical condition, which leaves her almost catatonic for most of the movie. We meet her in the beginning, but she plays a very important role later as the spirits in the haunted house use her as a vessel for possession.
It’s not the most original haunted house movie in terms of plot or story, but it is well made and if you’re into creepy atmosphere, you’ll probably enjoy it.
What did you think of 32 Malasaña Street? What’s your favorite haunted house movie? Let us know in the comments!
32 Malasaña Street is streaming exclusively on Shudder!