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Two [2021] Review: Spanish Survival Thriller is Terribly Campy

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Two leading actors, two central characters, two directors, and two writers. These are only a few of the mentioned concepts of pairs in this vibrantly colored but equally murky Spanish thriller, which tells the story of a man and a woman stitched together in an isolated hotel room. Two (Dos), directed by Mar Targarona and Mike Hostench, take up a premise that’s sensationally interesting. By this, I mean that it takes an almost psychologically stimulating backdrop for a chamber drama and a morally questioning ending to top it off. However, with each passing minute, it squanders its potentials to stay true to its B-Movie nature.




Sara is a wealthy young woman. David is a beautiful but lowly male escort. What connects them both is that they wake up on the same bed without clothes. However, it’s not what you think. They are completely naked, and their abdomens are violently attached to each other, clearly sewn by a metal. This isn’t an empty room- it has a strange pair of paintings, there’s a box with some equipment and a telephone that plays Mozart’s Requiem when dialed. There is a pair of towels and some delicious lasagna as an added bonus. However, it waters on nothing eventually because they are clearly stuck here and can hear dogs barking outside. The rest of the film witnesses the two of them unraveling the mysteries of this room and connecting the dots with the enemies of their personal lives.

Related to Two (Dos) – The Forbidden Room [2015]: Cave of Forgotten Films

Of course, the horrifying bodily element of the film gives it a clear benefit of the doubt. Anything can happen. The story is so opaque and blocked that it can either get perfect or wholly muddle itself. Sadly, the latter is the case. However, it’s not just an empty failure. It’s neither undercooked nor is it overcooked. It only takes a wretched premise and establishes a balance by completely butchering it. Even the grotesque sequences of flowing blood and human pain come across as cheap.

It won’t be hard for you to get the fact that this film has been made by people who are priests of camp. They are so devoted to the over-the-top corniness of movies that they will put them into a completely unrelated genre. They traverse the very brilliant territories of the script by triggering them with nakedly bad drama. This further lets down the film’s aesthetics, which radically normalizes physical, literal nakedness by making the film itself all about it.




This is especially disappointing because the film’s technical department isn’t all that bad. The horrible cinematography and editing aside, the filmmaking puts an effort towards creating a solid picture. The art direction is especially spot-on because it pays great lip service to the deceptions of the story. Even the more atrocious parts of the narrative have been elevated due to their thrillingly staged production value. On paper, it’s a fantastic idea striving to get executed smartly.

The problem is that the central players are far from intelligent in their workings. The direction by Targarona and Hostench is lackluster, to say the least. It’s something that can’t be made up for because there’s no visible effort in creating a palpable tension. There’s not a moment in which the direction is not waiting to be saved by the sound department. This is a shame because keeping aside the basic competence, the score is extremely mediocre. Molina and Canals have clearly posed solid screenwriting, right from the premise to the climax. But even that is marred down by consistent loopholes.

Also, Read – Green Room [2015]: Movie Review

We get an endlessly talky real-time event in which two strangers make sense of their unexpected waking up together by forging a connection. While conversation and panic are very logical with respect to the situation, inefficiency is the main reason why it doesn’t work here. Some dialogues are unintentionally hilarious.




The writing also suffers from the lethargic male gaze. The heroine is consistently bickering and accusing the man she’s stuck with, for doing this. It clearly comes off as an attempt to show how unintelligible Sara really is, meanwhile establishing David as a simple and sincere man who is genuinely trying to break free.

His chiseled charisma is at odds with his humility and his intelligence undoes Sara’s foolish, pained desperation to run free. But after establishing such crude, oddly campy sexism, the film tries to play switch-and-bait with its contemplative last few minutes. Suddenly, we discover that Sara is this fierce middle-aged woman suffering at the hands of a much-older husband. She had set out to kill him the previous night. She’s a victim of a domestic abuser husband who is wickedly intellectual and a great cynic. But then, the film again tries to make David the crucified Jesus as he asks Sara to cut the wire and leave him dying.




The performances are worse. This is especially awful because the film completely depends upon the energy and skill of its two leading actors, who are clearly the only ones in the spotlight. Pablo Derqui shows flashes of impressive restraint in the first few scenes. But then, he puts an irresponsible and lazy act later on. The casting of an actress as weak and objectively bad as Marina Gatell seems like an intentional choice to put across a sense of dread, with nothing else. I was constantly reminded of Mélanie Laurent’s sharp and brilliant performance in Oxygen, another Netflix-backed survival thriller. These two possess none of that rigor.

In fact, despite often drowning in silliness, Oxygen stands as a better example for a survival thriller. The French thriller mounted its paranoia by triggering the audience out of the location and genuinely scouting into the life of its protagonist. It also hit the spot between silly and substantial. In Two, we have a couple of really layered characters and what connects them will make for a brilliant back-story, ending up of course in this havoc. However, none of that is conveyed. Sara and David enjoy the lavish pleasures of this room, which sometimes makes us wonder if they like being strung together naked. In fact, I thought the twist would be a roleplay gone wrong!




The only great thing about Two is its final scene. A Fengshui is used to symbolize a spiral of pain and how they are much weaker than they were together. But this odd, non-conformist ending holds interest because it means that this one-hour cringe-fest has finally come to an end. The camp must be dismantled now!

½

Two (Dos) is now streaming on Netflix

Trailer

Two (Dos) Links – IMDb
Two (Dos) Cast – Pablo Derqui, Marina Gatell, Esteban Galilea, Anna Chincho Serrano, Kandido Uranga

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