Good…but also very, very dark

by Martin Hafer

I think Marshland is a very good film and I do recommend it…but not unequivocally.  This is because this Spanish film is very well done but it’s also quite brutal to watch with several ultra-realistic looking dead naked bodies…bodies that had been brutalized.  In many ways, it’s like watching an episode of the TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where you get to see everything…and that’s something many of you don’t want to necessarily see.  You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’re up to seeing the film and if you are, it just recently came to Netflix here in the States.

If you do watch the film, it wouldn’t hurt if you know about recent Spanish history.  It’s set back in 1980…not long after the repressive Franco regime had been replaced with a democratically elected government.  In Franco’s day, the police could be more brutal and civil rights weren’t nearly as important for the people they suspected.

Directed by
Alberto Rodríguez
Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, María Varod
DVD Release Date
9 February 2016
Martin’s Grade: A-

Because of this history, one of these veteran cops periodically shows a very brutal side….and witnesses who hold back are likely to get a rather serious beating–even uncooperative old ladies!  So what are these cops investigating and why does one of them think it’s worth delivering a butt kicking here and there?!  In a small town in the marshland, a couple young ladies have disappeared…and at first it’s just a missing person case.  But when they are eventually found dismembered and there might be other killings, things get very serious.  So serious that at one point in the film, even the local drug lord tries to help the police!

The acting in this film is definitely underplayed…most likely to make the flashes of brutality all the more jarring.  Now this is not to say that the film is slow or bad in any way…just deliberately paced and with music that definitely helps to set this somber, brooding mood.  This helps build tension during the course of the story.  My only real complaints are about the corpse scenes…as they are intense.  Still, the film is so well made that I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t see it listed today among the Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Picture.

Marshland comes out on the Strand Releasing label on February 9th 2016