(A.k.a. EL ATAUD DE CRISTAL)
Amanda (Paola Bontempi) makes her way into a limo. She's wearing an elegant dress, on her way to a ceremony to receive an award for her acting achievements. The vehicle she rides in is very fancy indeed, with neon lighting and even a stash of coke in the drawer. She settles for champagne when she receives a phone call from her husband, Saul. He's going to be late because of a delayed flight.
She tells him she is confident and will just improvise her speech, but unsurprisingly, she's shitting it. In her pocket is a sheet of paper which she reads and rehearses over and over.
The TV monitors turn on, showing a scene from her hit film. Watching it, however, she seems almost embarrassed. We also see an interview where she claims looking at the script was 'love at first sight' and she just had to take the opportunity to play the lead; classic bullshitting.
She presses the speaker and asks that the driver turn it off, but there's no response. After a convenient length of time, when she's watched all of it, they silently oblige and the monitors turn black. The time is now 20:07, and Amanda is late to the occasion. She tells them through the speaker to hurry it up, when finally somebody starts replying, but it's a low, inhuman voice.
Frightened, she begs whoever it is not to hurt her...'I haven't had botox yet!'...and starts laughing. She thinks it's one of her husband's little games, but the person on the other end is not who she thinks.
She's informed by the mystery driver that a jammer has been activated, disabling her phone. The doors are locked, and there's no escape. They demand complete obedience, and she will have to do some 'very unpleasant' things, but if she doesn't, it'll be a hell of a lot worse.
The first instruction? To take her clothes off...
The first thing which impresses about THE GLASS COFFIN is the set...it looks marvellous. It's also where the majority of the film takes place, which meant that I really had to be kept awake and engrossed in the events to appreciate it. Luckily, debut director Haritz Zubillaga has managed to produce a tense, capable thriller that always had me asking 'what could happen next?'
Bontempi is a good lead. You like her quickly, and can feel her pain when she's forced to degrade herself. She's not weak, but tough, and scenes where she initially refuses to perform certain acts keep you on edge rather than make you yawn. The only character onscreen for most of its 77 minute running time, she carries the story herself, and does it almost flawlessly.
The identity of the voice is indeed revealed, relatively early into the action, and it's a decent twist. We are forced to hear their motives and question how we view the whole situation with this new knowledge in mind...questions about the acting industry and the fakeness of it all are raised.
The film is technically astounding. The direction is assured, editing slick and clever at times. There's only so much you can do in such an enclosed set and Zubillaga gives us his best with every shot. The action is also very polished...this is not exploitation, and although Bontempi's torture is of an almost exclusively sexual nature, none of it is for show. There is no nudity, and the blood, scarcely shown as it is, looks convincing.
THE GLASS COFFIN comes to region-free DVD via MVD Visual. There are no special features, only a menu screen and a chapter selection offering access via 8 points.
The film itself is in Spanish, with non-optional English subtitles. They're okay but I noticed quite a few spelling errors, and often the white text is unreadable due to the film's bright lighting.
THE GLASS COFFIN is a great little Spanish thriller. It's got a good main character you root for, some interesting points to make to its audience, and I'll be watching it again.
Review by Elliott Moran
|Released by MVD Visual|