The nation-centric film festivals that flit their way through Australian capitals tend to offer the same sort of fare, for better or worse: a mix of arthouse indies, accessible comedies and the occasional crime drama. As a horror/thriller film, Shrew’s Nest is an outlier in the 2015 Spanish Film Festival lineup. Directors Juanfer Andrés and Esteban Roel draw heavily from the Misery template, telling the story of an agoraphobic morphine-addict Montse (Macarena Gómez), her eighteen year-old sister (Nadia de Santiago) and handsome upstairs neighbour Carlos (Hugo Silva), who’s kidnapped by Montse after a grisly fall down the apartment stairs.
There’s an intelligence here that belies the familiarity of its setting. Shrew’s Nest operates explicitly as a representation of the lingering harm caused by familial abuse; Montse regularly envisions the spectre of her dead, abusive father (Luis Tosar) and conflates love with pain. The film also targets the hypocrisy of her fundamentalist Christianity, with her religious symbols shattered and wielded as weapons. Splatters of blood and gore (and a predictable twist) in the film’s final half hour invigorate its dull, desaturated aesthetic, but ultimately the characters are too thinly drawn for Shrew’s Nest to distinguish itself from the film festival pack.