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New Release Review (DVD) - NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN review
A sexually frustrated young man is seduced by a witch.







Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Roberto San Sebastián

Starring: Javier Bódalo, Miriam Martín, Víctor Amilibia, Ignatius Farray

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN dvd

Hmmmm. Ok. Let’s start by putting Night of the Virgin within a recognisable genre context. Here goes: an aspect of horror will forever be captivated with immaculacy, mainly those horror films which are aimed at a teen audience which shares this preoccupation, for example, slashers with their orthodox, instructive rules. But the theme of virginity has featured further back too, notably with the Dracula archetype, who preferred a celibate non-vintage when he was feeding. Horror films are, in essence, about things being spoiled, whether it’s a nice night out in the woods, a day out at the beach (Jaws, which opens up with the shark cock-blocking that drunk lad) or the journey home after years of space trucking (Alien), with the ruination usually transpiring in the form of sexualised threat. Perhaps horror’s, the most reactionary of all genres, obsession with sex-not-sex derives from the schizoid attitude that the West has with doing the naughty, an obsession made unhealthy by learned guilt and fear. We seem to creepily prize what we perceive as purity but at the same time indulge our carnal urges through a proxy culture of pornography.

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN

And it’s different for each gender, too. Female virgin: fetishised object of righteousness. Male virgin: fucking object of ridicule. No one who went in to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin was expecting a searching study of loneliness and/or alternative sexual identities, were they? And so it goes with horror-com Night of the Virgin, where it’s New Year’s Eve (the absolute worst night of the year, especially for solitary and shy people) and our boy Nico (Javier Bódalo) is 20 years old, all alone and awkwardly stalking a pumping nightclub, absolutely hanging for a shag. See, at this point I was for the film, and rooting for Nico ineptly on the pull, negotiating the awfulness of a nightclub on the worst night of the year. Director Roberto San Sebastián and writer Guillermo Guerrero create a recognisable comedy of errors, with a wincing gross out element. Also, Bódalo’s face is ace: goofily expressive, he’s a young, Mediterranean Steve Buscemi. It’s not great for him though; he gets snubbed, roasted and then someone pukes on his shoes. However, his problems (and the film’s) really start when he goes home with Medea (Miriam Martín), who is an Older Woman.

Night of the Virgin then shifts from the laser-lit threat of the nightclub to Medea’s flat, and diminishes to a chamber drama of adolescent sexual revulsion. Quick plot run down: Nico is sort of repulsed by Medea, but a shag’s a shag, and Medea in her turn is drunk and a bit odd, and her ex-boyfriend is outside and he’s really angry and spends most of the film annoyingly knocking on the door and shouting, heard but not seen, in a contrivance designed so that Nico can’t leave the flat. Turns out that Medea is some sort of witch (I’m not being cutely vague, the film itself doesn’t have much of an idea of what she really is) and about an hour in, her eyes go black for a moment and she starts talking like that kid from The Grudge. Then there’s a pregnant-with-a-demon third act climax.

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN

Scary? Only if you find the idea of a man and a woman a generation apart having a drunken fumble frightening. Funny? Yeah, if you’re the sort of person who finds homosexual coitus a source of amusement: when he is trying to escape, Nico tries to enlist the help of the stereotypical queens in the flat above, one of whom is bumming the other as he hangs out of the window (well it is NYE, perhaps he was watching the fireworks). It doesn’t work, and Nico ends up shouting that there "are such a thing as pussies" (in the credits these characters are named, in translation, as active sodomite and passive sodomite, which is all you need to know about where this nasty spirited little film’s heart is).

Snowflake, you say? There’s a scene where Nico, following Medea passing out, tries to finish himself off. He picks up a scrap book which conveniently happens to be full of nice pictures of young women whose clothes have fallen off. Nico urgently pulls himself off (which we see in hardcore detail, if you’re in to that sort of thing), and when he’s about to reach climax he turns over the page to see a pic of a mutant baby which he helplessly spunks up over. This scene goes on for what seems like 10 minutes. As does the scene where Medea takes Nico’s phone and arbitrarily inserts it in her vagina (which we see in close up, if you’re in to that sort of thing) accompanied by ridiculous squelchy sound effects. I would imagine that you would find these scenes quite the shock, if you are 12.

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN

Look, I get it. I appreciate this sort of frustration, the confusion surrounding sex, the self-loathing. And you have my sympathies, lads: I would hate to be you. However, the assumptions of Night of the Virgin, that older women ("granny fucker") are inherently gross, that rape is a laugh, that the sexual agency of women is petrifying, are only applicable to the niche audience which shares these sad, limited views. A timely film for the incels then, which indulges the fears of this pathetic bunch while never really exploring them. Boys, perhaps the reason for your lack of success with women is your complete disrespect for them, and by extension the rest of humanity. It’s a nihilism inherent to Night of the Virgin, which aside from some lovely framing and cinematography, is also hopelessly inept. A major problem is that Miriam Martín is objectively hot, and so a little way into the film she has to randomly scratch most of her face off in order to look scary (shout out to Barbara Creed), and anyway, underneath they’re all ugly aren’t they lads? The winning bad taste cinema of John Waters, Troma, all the way to the Farrellys', works because at its heart there is affection for the subject, which sweetens the sour: Night of the Virgin is just scattershot and miserable. I can’t imagine what sort of audience will spend the night watching it.

Night of the Virgin is on DVD now.





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