A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages in Spanish supernatural horror movie.
Positive Role Models
Salvadór is a man of few words trying to teach his young son Diego how to be a man, while Diego's mother tries to protect him. Diego must grow up faster than he seems ready to do against a backdrop of disappearances, hauntings, death.
Spanish supernatural horror movie features only a family of three forced to hide in a home in the countryside as war ravages their country.
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Violence & Scariness
Suicide by slit throat. Man kills himself in a boat; blood. Attempted suicide by hanging. Talk of how, when he was a child, the father's sister jumped out of a window and killed herself, supposedly due to a monster. Nightmarish image of the sister dead on the first floor of a house while looking down from the second story. The shrieking sounds of rabbits being killed. Bloody rabbit carcass, bloody entrails on a table. A father slaps his young son.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wasteland is a supernatural horror movie in which a family living in isolation in 19th century Spain struggles to survive when a terrifying beast arrives. There are suicides, attempted suicides, and talk of suicide. Attempted suicide by hanging. Talk of how, when the father was a boy, his sister committed suicide by jumping out of a second-story window; nightmarish imagery shows the sister dead on the first floor after falling. Slit throat. A man in a boat commits suicide in front of two of the main characters. Rifle shots. Bloody and gory scenes of dead rabbits, with bloody entrails on a table, and scenes where rabbits are killed while they shriek. In one scene, the father slaps his young son. In Spanish, with English subtitles. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
At its best and most memorable, it's perhaps the eeriest and strangest coming-of-age movie ever made. The Wasteland works best when the story focuses on this aspect of a disturbing tale of a family of three hiding out in a bleak landscape in 19th century Spain as war and destruction rage and ravage their country. They have carved out a small safe haven, but it's immediately apparent that the isolation is starting to get to them. Against this desolate backdrop of grim survival, the father, Salvadór, is trying to force his son Diego to grow up faster than he's capable of doing at such a young age. Circumstances reveal that Diego has no choice as his father, in a questionable-at-best decision, leaves his wife and son, Diego's mother's sanity hangs by a thread, and a monster seems to be lurking outside of their house, moving ever closer.
On the whole, this works, but not entirely. The father's decision to leave, for instance, comes across as a little too convenient and out of character for how concerned he seemed to be for the safety of his family. Perhaps he just needed any excuse to get away from such drab surroundings, but it comes across more as a typical "bad and convenient horror movie decision." The pacing of the movie isn't great, and the moments that drag are heightened by the false expectations of horror movie jump music that ultimately seems superfluous, as the sounds, or lack thereof, of the house and the land (to say nothing of those rabbits) does more than enough to unsettle the viewer. The acting is strong, and there's a clear earnestness in making this film, but even at 92 minutes, it feels longer than that, and these attempts to create a style outweigh the substance.
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