Salvación (Salvation) (2016) [Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2017]

A teen with a heart condition in admitted to the hospital while she waits for life-saving surgery. While there, she meets a boy her age who claims to be a vampire and to be able to help her.

Directed by Denise Castro who co-wrote the film with Lluís Segura and Laia Soler, Salvación is a film that explores what it is to come of age while being hospitalized, how a girl’s dreams can seem impossible with a heart condition. Here the horror element, the vampire, is a helper and not a monster. He is a source of hope for this girl and he shows her that not all is hopeless while letting her take her own decisions. His appeal is of the forbidden at first, but once they are friends his appeal changes and she learns a lot from him and about herself. The story here is not about the fact that he is a vampire, but about her and how she learns to cope and live with her health issue at such a young age.

Playing the teenage girl at the center of everything, Cris, is Marina Botí who does touching, emotional work here and gives her character depth and strength, making her a strong female lead even though she is physically weak. Her character shows through her acting and she creates someone worth watching. Playing her mother and giving a concerned performance is Laura Yuste. Playing the young vampire, Víctor, is actor Ricard Balada who gives a performance where he is both vulnerable and confident, he manages to go back and forth between the two and gives the type of performance that keeps the viewer interested.

The cinematography by José Luis Pulido paired with the lighting and hospital settings give the film a ton of atmosphere. The darkness in corners, the way the hospital becomes creepy at night, the multiple rooms with unseen inhabitants, the film uses the location to its best potential while not over doing it, something many other hospital set films do badly. This film is has not only atmosphere but it has feelings created with images and acting. The film feels a bit hopeless in parts and full of hope in others, a contradiction that works because of how it’s written, directed, acted, but in big part because of how it’s shot. The work by José Luis Pulido is beautifully dark, melancholy, and powerful.

The film here is a vampire film with no special effects to speak of, it’s not a gory, bloody (except for a touch of blood at the hospital), or scary film. It’s about the characters, what pushes them to be the way they are and how they can learn and move forward. The film is a coming of age story for a girl with a heart condition. It uses vampirism as a hopeful option, not as a scary one. The film is all about its characters and how they affect each other. It’s melancholically beautiful, it has a sadness that is pervasive at first and slowly fades giving place to hope. It’s a dark film that’s also full of hope.