Spanish Film Festival review: Abracadabra bold and never boring

Antonio de la Torre and Maribel Verd in Abracadabra.
Antonio de la Torre and Maribel Verd in Abracadabra.

PREDICTING plot developments or having a preconceived idea about Abracadabra is futile.

Playing as part of the Spanish Film Festival, this unpredictable rollercoaster ride of genres and tones will head in directions you could never have guessed, which is a refreshing feeling.

But does writer/director Pablo Berger manage to keep it all on the winding tracks?

The marriage between housewife Carmen (Maribel Verd) and her volatile husband Carlos (Antonio de la Torre) is strained, but when he is possessed by the ghost of a dead waiter, he becomes sweet and attentive.

Unfortunately, it turns out the dead waiter snapped and killed several people years earlier.

There is hypnotism, farce, mental health issues and investigation tropes.

Abracadabra is bold in what it tackles and the diversity of genres it presents – it will be a while before something this wild comes along again, however after a promising and lively comedic beginning, it loses its way.

The shift from farce to dark, gory thriller is not the smoothest of transitions and the reveal that a mental disorder is involved gives one pause about laughing at proceedings.

It is never boring and your jaw may be agape for most of the running time and the acting cannot be faulted, but it is jarring for the wrong reasons too frequently.

The 21st Spanish Film Festival is on from April 26 to May 16.


Abracadabra (MA)

Directed by: Pablo Berger

Starring: Maribel Verd, Antonio de la Torre, Priscilla Delgado

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright