×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘Shrew’s Nest’

The delicate balance between two reclusive sisters is upset by a handsome neighbor's presence in this 'Misery'-style psychological horror-thriller.

With:
Macarena Gomez, Nadia de Santiago, Luis Toar, Hugo Silva.

A “Misery”-style captive situation upends the fragile balance between two reclusive sisters in “Shrew’s Nest,” a 1950s-set tale of repression and madness that marks the feature debut of directing duo Juanfer Andres and Esteban Roel. Produced by Alex de la Iglesia, this typically high-polish, psychologically angled Spanish horror-thriller is well handled in all departments even if its ideas never feel particularly fresh, or their execution more than solid. Offshore sales should be decent without approaching the genre’s higher export watermarks of recent years.

Their mother having died in childbirth, and their absent father presumed dead for nearly as many years, Montse (Macarena Gomez) has been both affectionate sibling and an occasionally heavy-handed surrogate mother/authority figure to her younger sis (Nadia de Santiago, playing a figure who, for no obvious reason, goes unnamed throughout). The latter, who’s just turned 18, goes out to work each day and is a normal, well-adjusted girl. The same can hardly be said for Montse, a high-strung religious fanatic and agoraphobe who keeps her sibling on a very tight leash: Terrified of being left alone, among other things, she freaks out at the possibility that sis might have a secret boyfriend, or even a potential one.

Alone every day but for the occasional client visit (she’s a dressmaker), Montse one day overcomes her fears enough to answer a desperate cry for help. Handsome upstairs neighbor Carlos (Hugo Silva) has fallen down the stairs, hitting his head and hurting a leg. Montse puts him in their parents’ bedroom, and upon waking, he’s grateful for the care. But the hitherto buried feelings this unexpected visitor awakens in her prove unfortunate for him.

He’s slow to realize (even after the younger sis discovers his presence and warns him to get the hell out) that his situation is perilous: Montse keeps him drugged with morphine, “immobilizes” his leg for less-than-medical reasons, and claims a doctor has been to see him when none has indeed, his untended limb is getting worse by the day. When outsiders also begin to guess at the missing man’s whereabouts, the besotted Montse who already has disturbing visions of her late, goading father (Luis Tosar) snaps tether, with lethal results.

Cinematic enough despite barely leaving the lead characters’ apartment, “Shrew’s Nest” is well acted and paced, its climactic bloodbath effective if unmemorable. But there’s no real sense of surprise here, particularly in a late revelation that means to be shocking, but which most viewers will have long since guessed at. Tech and design aspects are nicely turned down the line.

Popular on Variety

Toronto Film Review: 'Shrew's Nest'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Vanguard), Sept. 9, 2014. Running time: 95 MIN. (Original title: "Musaranas")

Production: A Pokeepsie Films production. (International sales: Pokeepsie, Madrid.) Produced by Alex De La Iglesia, Carolina Bang, Kiko Martinez.

Crew: Directed by Juanfer Andres, Esteban Roel. Screenplay, Andres, Sofia Cuenca. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Angel Amoros; editor, Andres; music, Joan Valent; production designer, Pedro Ruigomez; costume designer, Paola Torrres; special FX, Pedro Rodriguez; sound, Juan Borrell.

With: Macarena Gomez, Nadia de Santiago, Luis Toar, Hugo Silva.

More Film

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

  • Judy & Punch review

    Damon Herriman Stands Out as 'The Nightingale' and 'Lambs of God' Lead AACTA Nominations

    Dark thriller, “The Nightingale” and miniseries “Lambs of God” lead the pack at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. In nominations announced on Wednesday, they picked up 15 and 18 nods, respectively. Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” was one of six films nominated in the best film category. With others including Mirrah Foulkes’ [...]

  • Daisy Ridley is Rey in STAR

    'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Scores Best First-Day Atom Ticket Sales for a 'Star Wars' Film

    Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker” has racked up the best first day of advance ticket sales for a “Star Wars” movie ticketed by Atom. Sales launched during the half time of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Atom’s overall first-day record was set in April by Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame.” But “Star Wars: The Rise of [...]

  • Cardi B

    Cardi B Joins Vin Diesel in 'Fast & Furious 9'

    Cardi B has joined the cast of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in an undisclosed role. It’s the rapper’s first movie part since her role as the stripper Diamond in STX’s drama “Hustlers.” Vin Diesel disclosed the casting Tuesday in a post on his Instagram account with a video that showed him and Cardi B [...]

  • James Wan

    Film News Roundup: James Wan's Horror Thriller 'Malignant' Gets August Release

    In today’s film news roundup, James Wan’s “Malignant” gets a late-summer release, a Rita Hayworth documentary is shooting and Women in Animation have announced diversity awards winners. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has set an Aug. 14 release date for James Wan’s horror thriller “Malignant.” Wan will direct the movie, based on a story by Wan [...]

  • Michael Shannon Benedict Cumberbatch Tuppence Middleton

    How Martin Scorsese Saved 'Current War' From Harvey Weinstein

    Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon finally gets to release his version of his long-in-the-making “The Current War.” The film, about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, was originally set to be distributed by the Weinstein Company after Harvey Weinstein recut it, much to Gomez-Rejon’s chagrin. To make matters worse, Weinstein premiered the movie at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content