The Night of the Virgin, 2016.
Directed by Roberto San Sebastián.
Starring Javier Bódalo, Miriam Martin, and Victor Amilibia.
Dorky young Nico follows an older woman home with the promise of finally losing his virginity once and for all. As grimy and oddly decorated as it is, the stage is set in the woman’s apartment for the boy to at long last become a man. There’s only one problem: she has something very different planned. Something ritualistic.
Horror nuts, gore fiends and seasoned devotees of extreme cinema, this is not a drill. Drop everything: we might just have found your new favourite movie.
Those with weak hearts or of a sensitive disposition, look away now. The Night of the Virgin, a comedically-tinged gross-out fright fest of the most epic proportions, is landing soon, and aside from being one of the most terrifically staged, tremendously tense and gloriously ballsy genre releases in a long ol’ while, it’s also really, really bloody disgusting.
Starting out as much more Inbetweeners than Exorcist, to reveal any more would do disservice to Sebastián’s constant cunning twists, but it goes without saying that Virgin is anything but innocent by the end. Co-starring a revolving door of demonic curses, Cronenbergian body horror and just about every single bodily fluid that could possibly be expelled from a human being, it’s a mishmash of pitch black storytelling and hilariously over-egged visuals, that pushes the envelope pretty much as far as it can physically go, without ever bordering on the offensive.
Unlike Hostel, The Human Centipede or any of the more obscene gross-out offerings that came before it, Virgin isn’t interested in vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity. It’s outrageous, true; obscene, filthy and totally fucking unhinged in equal measure; but it’s never ever nasty. Everything happens for a reason, ramping up the levels of dirtiness, but also the humour, at beautifully structured intervals.
It’s a comedy. A light-hearted romp that just so happens to be carved into a seriously bloody template. Everything Sebastián does is to bring an extra layer of laughs. He’s not trying to offend or ridicule. There’s nothing particularly political or standoffish about his film at all; he’s simply delivering comedy-horror in its finest form. Pure, crowd-pleasing fun.
The main cast of three, in particular Javier Bódalo’s gleefully dweeby lead, hold the madness together with a trio of, shall we say… devoted performances, but the real stars here are Sebastián and screenwriter Guillermo Guerrero.
Everything from the film’s pacing, to its throwaways jokes, and of course, the overall bloodletting; it’s all just so measured. Nothing feels lazy or unnecessary, and the special effects themselves, in all their (largely) practical glory, always feel grounded and, oddly enough, believable. There’s no better compliment, especially considering the seriously far-out nature of the very messy finale.
Aside from the occasional runaway joke, and an intro that outstays its welcome just a tad, The Night of the Virgin is not only the best Spanish genre release since 2008’s [Rec], but also an absolutely essential spot of gross-out cult horror for any fan that can stomach it.
Fans of Miike, Roth or early Peter Jackson, this one should be at the very top of your list.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★ / Movie: ★★★★★
Ben Robins / @BMLRobins