THE WASTELAND aka THE BEAST (2021) Reviews and new on Netflix

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‘Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there’
The Wasteland is a 2021 horror film about a mother and son who live on an isolated moor menaced by a feral creature. Also known as The Beast

Directed by David Casademunt – making his feature debut – from a screenplay co-written with Martí Lucas and Fran Menchón. Produced by Marina Padró Targarona, Joaquín Padró and Mar Targarona.

The Spanish Rodar y Rodar Cine y Televisión-Fitzcarraldo Films co-production stars Inma Cuesta, Roberto Álamo, Alejandra Howard and Asier Flores.

Plot:
Taking refuge from war, Lucia and her son live far from society in a flat area where there is almost no life. The small family unit formed by mother and son receives hardly any visitors, and their goal is to develop a peaceful existence.

At first, they succeed, but the appearance of a mysterious and violent creature that begins to haunt her little house will put the relationship that unites them to the test…

Our review:
David Casademunt’s The Wasteland has split critics. Some have been impressed by its simplicity, themes of a child’s growing maturity and willingness to move on from his parental guidance and beautifully filmed imagery. Others have simply found its slow pacing a chore. We’re in the former camp although we appreciate that this graceful film will not be to everyone’s tastes. Unfortunately, there are also some character arcs that strain credibility and an over-reliance on easy jump scares.

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Other reviews:

“Oppressive atmosphere, crazy folk clawing at their own skin, jump scares, things going thumpity at night, the thing-creature functioning as a metaphor for this and that and misc. etc. It’s grim and humorless and not much fun and sags in the middle, but for what it’s worth, is also reasonably well-done, tonally consistent and doling out a scare or two. I shrug in its general direction.” Decider

“It led me into thinking about the psychology of a child who was born during quarantine. What impact does it have on you when you have always lived in closed walls, and you believe that this is what life looks like because you have never seen what lies outside. The film starts on a promising note but eventually loses its grip. But still, it leaves you with a lot to ponder upon.” Digital Mafia Talkies

“For a first-timer, the directing is superb, with intriguing instances seamlessly translating to tension, ensuring that the end product is an absolute nail-biting experience. There are instances that made the movie drag a little bit; however, the atmosphere remained pretty chilled, with the freaky moments being a welcome compensation for the slow burn.” Fiction Horizon

The Wasteland (El Páramo) is one of those films with a dense atmosphere in which the fantasy plot is actually a pretext to talk about the passage to maturity and the need to leave behind the guardianship of parents to open a path of their own. What is undoubtedly undeniable is the excellent work of the actors chosen to develop this story.” Filmy Hype

The Wasteland is always just a beat off. Even a classic scene with laundry hanging out to dry doesn’t really work […] What does work really well for The Wasteland is the acting […] The Wasteland on Netflix is billed as a horror movie and it is. However, it utilizes symbolism to a very large degree, which I don’t think people will expect.” Heaven of Horror

“The setting of the house, the hopelessness in the air, the sepia tones, the focus on every object inside and outside the house, the still shots add enough to the creepiness. The performances also make the film an absorbing watch. Actor Inma Cuesta as Lucía is brilliant. The smooth and terrifying transition in her performance is commendable.” Leisure Byte

“We see crude, spooky homemade dolls, and images of rotting fruit and animal carcasses decorate the setting as Mom despairs of her husband ever returning and Diego starts to figure out Mom’s what this beast wants next. The slow pacing and elementary mistakes about how to frame, light, film and edit horror to make it shock and awe render this otherwise good-looking, stark and elemental thriller too bland to pay off.” Movie Nation

“Casademunt orchestrates a few modest horror set-pieces, usually with made-you-look editing or screaming string sections, but it all lacks a certain spark that could make it all resonate deeper, or later on, hurt even more. “The Wasteland” is the unique case of a horror movie with a more robust visual sense than a lot of its contemporaries, but that still doesn’t create a larger terror.” RogerEbert.com

“Outside of the chilly atmosphere though, a lot of the horror elements didn’t land for me […] The real stand out element from this though was the acting. There is only really a main cast of two, most other characters come and go pretty quick, so it really is the mother and son that take centre stage, and they do an absolutely phenomenal job.” Trailer Trashed

“Overall The Wasteland, while not being as barren of entertainment as its title might suggest, there just wasn’t enough in the way of scares to keep my attention. Nor was there the constant suspense to make up for it. At times it felt more like a dark drama than a horror film or a thriller. If your taste runs in that direction maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.” Voices from the Balcony

Release:
The film had its world premiere at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain on October 12, 2021.
The Wasteland is streaming worldwide on Netflix from January 6th 2021.

Cast and characters:
Inma Cuesta … Lucía
Roberto Álamo … Salvador
Alejandra Howard … Juana
Asier Flores

Filming locations:
Teruel, Aragón, Spain

Technical details:
93 minutes

Original title:
El Páramo “The Moor”

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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