We're long past the moratorium stage now. Somehow, the serial killer genre has become such a formulaic fright flick mainstay that even foreign countries are getting into the act. These are not novel twists on the whole slice and dice ideal, or visually arresting variables on the mass murdering mindset, however. No, most of these ineffectual offerings are direct descendants of the whole hackneyed horror ideal of the current post-modern macabre. You know the drill – supposedly smart psycho who can slaughter at will; an unwilling accomplice who doesn't know about the death occurring right under her nose; lame law enforcement who couldn't solve a one man game of Clue; and lots and lots of kinetic killing. Spain's most recent example of this terror type – H6: Diary of Serial Killer – considers itself a deep and dark Sie7e like scarefest. The truth is far more flaccid. This is one incredibly dull, completely derivative horror film without a lick of originality or enticement.
When his girlfriend calls it quits, a young Antonio Frau decides the best way to handle the dumping is to strangle his honey to death. Several years later he's released from prison, and as luck would have it, he learns he's just inherited an old abandoned brothel from his aunt. Immediately marrying his mail order bride Francisca, the two move into the tumble down hotel. She works as a nurse on the night shift, which gives her ample opportunity to monkey around with her married doctor lover. Her evening affairs also allow Antonio to pick up his God given mantle – to rape, torture and kill prostitutes in a secluded room in the building. Writing long, elaborate journal passages to explain his actions, Antonio becomes obsessed with murdering as many ladies of ill repute as possible. Naturally, the police begin to get suspicious over the disappearances, and investigate Antonio, looking for clues. When they think they have him cornered, our villain devises a double cross that sets the case back decades. Apparently, there is more to this murderer than blood and body parts. He imagines himself a messenger of the Lord, creating the legend of H6: Diary of a Serial Killer.
Hampered by a script that's all talk and no stalk, and bereft of even the most elemental fear factors, H6: Diary of a Serial Killer should actually be retitled Hackwork: Off-screen Slayer with Diarrhea of the Mouth. Ever since Hannibal Lector made the gift of gab frightening in Jonathan Demme's slice and dice standard bearer, Silence of the Lambs, filmmakers have decided that nothing says insane spree slaughter better than a guy who just can't shut up. Our overly talkative antihero, a recently released convict named Antonio Frau, has a tendency toward that moldy old genre gimme – the God complex. He believes himself a messenger of the Messiah, a courier capable of getting the Good Word across by randomly chainsawing up a few hookers. Actually, Antonio likes to rape them, repeatedly, before putting the Black and Decker to their bodies. Like Brad Garrett as Ed Gein, Fernando Acaso uses his banana oil slicked hairdo as a main character dimension, and runs his yap incessantly while preparing to pare up another prostitute. As part of his mindless modus, he sits down to write laughable, long-winded passages about perceived superiority, and lucky us, we get to hear every self-righteous pronouncement as part of a voice over narrative. And as if the film wasn't talky enough, the remaining characters all get a chance to blather on and on, giving us their neverending perspective about life, the universe and pan-fried people meat.
Yes, there's an implied undercurrent of cannibalism in this dull, dreary mess. First time filmmaker – and boy, does it show – Martin Garruido Baron shoots everything like it's the sitcom version of Psycho. Every scene seems covered by more than one camera, and Baron edits like a director covering the Super Bowl halftime spectacle. Conversations will cut off in mid sentence so that another angle can be presented, movement consistently mired by editorial choices that seems to negate any minor amount of narrative momentum. It doesn't help that the script is so unfathomably flawed. There are so many lingering and unanswered questions as part of the plot that you're not sure whether to laugh, cry or throw your remote at the TV. For example, Antonio and his jailhouse bride Francisca live in this massive hotel, yet it seems impossible that Mr. Murderer can get away with keeping his victims locked up in Room 6 for days on end. The smell alone would rouse suspicion. Even more unbelievable, the killings seem to take forever. Antonio goes on excessive jags while preparing his prey for vivisection. Yet Francisca only works a standard overnight shift. Even at eight hour intervals, this guy's death dance takes way too long. Then there's the endless supply of gourmet meat. If you had a husband who didn't work, yet managed to have a massive freezer filled with all kinds of variety cuts – including high-end comestibles like brains – wouldn't you wonder where the credit providing slaughterhouse was?
Such side considerations indicate how ineffectual H6 really is. The most exasperating factor though is how Baron avoids the basics that make up the serial killer genre. We never see any onscreen violence. Bloodshed covers the scenery, but we never actually see saw hit human. Of course, there's the obligatory rummaging around afterwards where Antonio picks through the various by-products his power tool has produced. But again, Baron treats this important element like a hindrance to more monologing. It cannot be stressed enough how terribly talky this movie is. Such a creative choice completely kills any potential dread this storyline could create. Even worse, Baron then aims for the rafters by devising the kind of trick ending that even M. Night Shyamalan would think was retarded. In essence, we are supposed to assume that everything that's happened during the initial hour and twenty minutes of the movie was a grand game of cat and mouse expertly maneuvered by a man who thinks that violating corpses is a cool idea. It's a twist that involves such a large leap in logic that anyone who buys into it is merely fooling themselves. Antonio is not that smart, Francisca is not that desperate and the police are not that pathetic. Indeed, the finale feels like an out and out cheat – a ridiculous attempt to give H6 some heft that it otherwise couldn't accomplish on its own. As a result, what was merely aggravating turns awful. No matter your penchant for fear, this is the kind of movie that will cure you of your creature feature cravings once and for all.
Using that standard blue/green/brown filming style that David Fincher made popular over a decade ago, the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is excellent. The presentation is clean and crisp and the details are discernible. This is especially important when director Baron uses the unshaved status of a female body part as a determining factor of time passing. While the lackluster approach to framing is definitely a flaw, the overall transfer is actually very good.
Offered in a slightly atmospheric Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, there is minimal use of the surrounding channels in this frequently flat presentation. All the dialogue is discernible and the English subtitles do a very accurate job of translating the original Spanish script. The music is the standard spooky symphonic slop, announcing potential terrors well in advance of their onscreen arrival.
As if we need any more indication of this movie's sense of self-importance, actor Fernando Acaso gives us his holier than thou version of the film's flawlessness during a rather routine interview featurette. After praising Baron beyond the point of all plausibility, the director himself shows up to support his own amazing vision. It's just as grating and groan-inducing as you can imagine, especially when the filmmaker points out how smart and superior his approach to the genre is. Ugh! Toss in the original trailer and you have some meaningless context that does nothing to support or defend H6's silliness.
It's clear that, when it comes to pure dread potential, the serial killer has lost his (or her) shock status. We no longer find these fiends interesting, and grimace the minute we hear the words listed as part of any plot description. Where once a smart slayer could drum up a little tried and true trepidation, the cinematic subgenre has gone all gray and dreary. Clearly, H6 deserves nothing less than a Skip It. Even the most open minded macabre fan will fail to find anything of interest in this dialogue-driven dreariness. If talking someone to death was the most menacing bit of Shock Theater a director could devise, this motion picture would be the king of all corpse carving creations. But the sad fact is that this movie makes the mistake of believing its own hampered hype. You just know the filmmakers feel they are creating the next generation of terror title. If this is indeed the future of fear, it's time to start looking back to the past and pronto. H6: Diary of a Serial Killer does not bode well for the continuing viability of foreign fright.
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