Luis Montesinos’ ‘Ropes’ (2019): A Tension-Filled Spin On An Old Favorite – Movie Review

There are two types of filmgoers in this world: those who can sit back and suspend all disbelief, and those who will nitpick small details to death. I fall into that second group. This is both a blessing and a curse. In the case of my viewing of Jose Luis Montesinos’ film, Ropes, this became somewhat of an issue. Overall, I really enjoyed this film. But there are some real problems with logic I’d like to discuss.

Synopsis:

With her sister’s death still very recent, Elena, a young quadriplegic, has retired to a country house along with her father. There she has the help of Athos, a Belgian Shepherd service dog. But the animal who is supposed to be her best friend has contracted a strange disease… and has turned into her worst enemy.

Let’s get this out of the way to begin with: Ropes is basically a Spanish version of Cujo. A father (Miguel Angel Jenner: Secuestro) brings his daughter, Elena (Paula del Rio: Retribution), to their country home to recover after the car crash that killed her twin sister and left Elena paralyzed in a wheelchair. With them is Athos, a Belgian Malinois that has been trained to assist her. But Athos gets bit by a bat, and Elena’s father drops dead from a sudden heart attack on his way to bring Athos to the vet, leaving Elena alone with a dog that is slowing but surely growing sicker…

Now, let’s talk about the good in Ropes, of which there is plenty. Paula del Rio’s performance as Elena and her dead twin, Vera (whom we see in flashbacks), is superb. When she arrives, she is despondent and vulnerable, trying to come to terms with survivor’s guilt. From there, she must transition into a clever, desperate survivor. Del Rio does this flawlessly; it’s a great achievement. The tone, established with camerawork, along with lighting and editing, ratchets up the tension right until the final showdown. The entire last half of the film absolutely drips with tension as Elena has to move (in a motorized wheelchair!) quietly through the house without Athos hearing.

Now for the bad. You remember when I said I said I just can’t suspend all disbelief, right? At the beginning of Ropes, Elena’s father gives her a tour of the home that he has newly retrofitted for her, with special doors, windows, a way for her to play music, and even a service dog… but no telephone? She’s a teenage girl in the middle of nowhere, and you have given her no access to a telephone? Come on, man! The father in JeruZalem gave his daughter a Google Glass, and she wasn’t even in a wheelchair! I refuse to believe that this potentially important, possibly lifesaving tool would have been overlooked by the father, who seemed to care very deeply for his daughter. Or do they have Life Alert in Spain? So now, instead of focusing on the story entirely, I found the logical part of my brain obsessing over that niggling fact.

Despite this, Ropes is a pretty cool film. Original? No. Fun and watchable? Absolutely. See it for Paula del Rio’s performance alone, and your average gorehound will enjoy it, too.

About Christine Burnham

When not writing, Christine Burnham is watching TV, Horror films, reading, cooking, and spending time with her menagerie of animals.

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