The Wasteland (2022) Netflix Review

Lucía and her son live far from society in a flat area where there is almost no life. The small family unit made up of 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 their small house will put the relationship that unites them to the test. – From IMDB

This Spanish isolation Horror movie will not be for everyone. First time director David Casademunt is not afraid to really take his time, and tell this story exactly the way he wants to. Which works fantastically in some ways, but also means that the hour and a half run time can feel a lot longer, as there are a lot of periods of the film where nothing is really happening.

Weirdly enough though, this slow pace and those periods of downtime are really what ramp up the suspense and the chill factor of the film, which is one of the things I enjoyed most about it. The fact that we never get a good look at the entity stalking the family, the fact that there is always doubt over whether there is something there, and the excellent cinematography, lighting and sound mean that although there are times the plot slows right down, the tension and suspense never do.

This film began its life way before Covid was ever a thing, which makes its commentary on the effects of isolation and loneliness seem even more relevant with it being released now, in 2022 when most of the world has been dealing with a lot of isolation for nearly 2 years now. It’s a major part of the plot, leaving it up to the viewer for the vast majority of the film to decide if there really is a monster, or if the family’s isolation is finally effecting their relationships and their mental health.

See the source image

Outside of the chilly atmosphere though, a lot of the horror elements didn’t land for me. None of the jump scares were really all that effective and you could see them coming a mile away.

The real stand out element from the 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. Especially youngster Asier Flores as Diego who gives a performance well past his years and steals many scenes from his more experienced co-stars. The development in both characters throughout the film is profound and both him and Inma Cuesta do a fantastic job of running the emotional gauntlet from happy innocence right through to terror and hoplessness, astounding work to see.

This film has the potential to be a cult hit, but I fear too many people will be put off by its pacing and experimental nature. I do however urge you to give it a try, you might be surprised.

FINAL RATING: 3.5 Stars


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