You Should Be Talking About Don’t Listen (2020)
Title: Don’t Listen
First Wide Release: July 24, 2020 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Ángel Gómez Hernández
Writer: Santiago Díaz, Ángel Gómez Hernández, Víctor Gado, Juan Moreno
Runtime: XX Minutes
Starring: Rodolfo Sancho, Ana Fernández, Ramón Barea
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Professional home flippers Daniel (Rodolfo Sancho) and Sara (Belén Fabra) are at a loss on how to handle their nine-year-old son Eric (Lucas Blas) and his newfound behavioral problems at school. They understand that the stress of moving so often and having a noisy home environment could contribute to the issues, but it isn’t until some truly terrible things happen before they reconsider what could be going on in their latest house. At his wit’s end, Daniel begs a supernatural investigator (Ramón Barea) and his daughter, Ruth (Ana Fernández), to see if something unnatural is happening in his home. Ángel Gómez Hernández directs this Spanish haunter.
An unexpected and riveting paranormal thriller, Don’t Listen shines with strong storytelling and striking imagery.
Don’t Listen starts in media res, throwing the viewers into what would normally be the end of the first act of a typical haunted house flick. The escalation of abnormal situations has already begun and the parents are still worried about their son not adjusting to their new home. From there, the film falls into plenty of familiar tropes like disembodied voices coming from impossible places, static electricity manifesting by itself, insects deliberately flying into ears, etc. Since sound is central to its premise, it not only propels the story but unsettles the audience as it does. And while Don’t Listen does employ a vast arsenal of the typical tricks, it starts to shake things up once it gets to the end of its first act. Afterwards, it warps into something atypical for the genre with what they do with the son and the unexpected yet appreciated ending.
I also appreciate the lengths the team behind Don’t Listen take to scare its audience. The setting makes for some incredibly creepy set pieces, particularly the basement. Imagery also works in the film’s favor. The spirits are always kept at arm’s reach, mostly avoiding the screen while still making their presence known. It makes it scarier when you can’t see the entire monster. I wish more films did it like this!
A visually appealing movie with a strong sound work, Don’t Listen does a great job of showcasing what strong technical skills can do for a horror film. Hernández is a solid director that maintains hold on his unique vision while ensuring that everything looks great and fits into his film’s polished aesthetic. The gore, which gets surprisingly nasty for a film of this nature, is pretty great and offers up some shocking moments. It’s well-paced, well-acted, and has a solid story. There aren’t many stumbling blocks for Don’t Listen, it mostly comes down to subjective taste for how it affects you.
It isn’t without criticism. The house flipping aspect of the story fades away almost as quickly as it is introduced, aside from a throwaway line explaining why the father must remain in the house to the end. And honestly, other than this business with flipping the house and wanting to prove he is a good father, that is all we ever really get into with Daniel’s character. There’s more backstory here, which could make for a richer story. That’s another issue I have with the film. I feel like there is this giant untapped potential for really cool history and lore that never surfaces. I hope that if they choose to make a sequel it expands on the mythology presented here because it has the potential to be great.
Don’t Listen is a solid supernatural horror film that revels in misdirection and mystery. Consistently dark and brooding, this horror will catch you off guard with brutal sequences while still maintaining an overall unsettling atmosphere. Fans of Spanish horror or good old-fashioned ghost stories will certainly enjoy this movie. Hear me when I tell you that Don’t Listen is worth the time and energy invested.
Overall Score? 7/10