Fausto 5.0 Review
Dr Fausto is a resident surgeon in an experimental ward specialising in terminal cases. Being constantly surrounded by the dead and the dying has taken its toll on the doctor, who has become alienated and weary of life.
One day he encounters Santos Vella, a man who claims that the doctor removed his stomach eight years previously. Claiming that Dr Fausto's terminal diagnosis taught him to appreciate the true value of life, Santos declares that he will do anything he can to repay the doctor, including granting his every wish. Santos then leads Dr Fausto in an exploration of the light and dark realms of human desire.
The Faust myth has provided the source material for numerous films right from the birth of cinema, but Fausto 5.0 goes some way to prove that an original take on the material is still possible.
Crediting three directors would normally be cause for alarm, implying that the unsatisfactory work of one director was then passed on to another, but Fausto 5.0 was produced as a true collaboration between the three directors. Álex Ollé and Carlos Padrisa are both members of the performance group La Fura dels Baus, who have recently been courting controversy with their theatrical production XXX. For Fausto 5.0, their first cinematic outing, the pair enlisted the help of experienced advert director Isidro Ortiz.
Rather than the diluted work you might expect to be produced from a collaborative effort, Fausto 5.0 is as distinctive and dark a vision as the works of Cronenberg and Lynch. Almost every frame is invested with a palpable sense of dead. Through a skilled combination of camera angles, pacing and editing, every room and street becomes an uneasy place filled with an oppressive sense of death and decay. The stark, desaturated cinematography of Pedro del Ray adds to the sense of a world bleached of colour and life.
As well as this close attention to the visual aspect, the filmmakers have also recognised the importance of sound in horror and the film successfully combines sound effects with Josep Sanou's moody score to add to the uneasy atmosphere.
Acting is an infamously weak factor in many horror films, but that is certainly not the case here. Argentine actor Miguel Ángel Solá turns in a strong performance in the lead role as a man initially weary of life who experiences a number of unfamiliar emotions after his encounter with the mysterious Santos Villa.
The real acting honours, however, go to Eduard Fernández, whose portrayal of Santos Vella is by turns irritating, charming, humorous and scary. His efforts did not go unrecognised, as he won the 2002 Goya for best actor.
Fausto 5.0 is a well-acted and original take on the Faust myth that creates an atmosphere of unease only occasionally lifted by a dash of appropriately dark humour.
The anamorphic transfer has a reasonable level of detail and no noticeable compression artefacts. The de-saturated colours reflect the intentions of the filmmakers, as presumably so does the lack of shadow detail, with darker areas becoming solid black. A few minor print flecks appear throughout, but rather than being distracting, these somehow add to the bleak and gritty look of the film.
The excellent Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is finely balanced, with the dialogue, score and sound effects all clearly defined and separated. Effective and appropriate use is made of the rear speakers and LFE.
A dubbed Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 option is also available.
The English subtitles are near perfect, with only a few typographical errors.
The menus are in Spanish text only, but given the limited number of options this poses no problem.
The film comes with a limited number of extras, the majority of which are text based, in Spanish only.
The theatrical trailer is certainly an effective taster for the film, but despite its short minute-and-a-half runtime it still manages to show many key scenes from the film.
A rather pointless extra is a list of the main credits for the film, in Spanish text.
Brief Spanish text biographies for Miguel Ángel Solá, Eduard Fernández, Najwa Nimri and the directors are also included, followed by some brief production notes.
The main extra is a twenty-minute making of documentary, which consists of a combination of short clips from the film, on set footage and sound bites from the cast and crew. There are no subtitles.
The final text-only extra is a list of the awards won by the film, which aside from the Goya for Eduard Fernández include various awards from fantasy film festivals around the world.
The disc also includes a selection of six trailers for other releases, Vidas Privadas, Le Prince du Pacifique, L' Illa de l'holandès, Pau i el seu germà, Sagitario and The Ventura Pons Collection.
Much of the textual extra content is available in English on the film's official website, as is the theatrical trailer.
Atmospheric and disturbing, Fausto 5.0 is too distinctive and unconventional to be to everybody's taste, but the film is recommended for the more open-minded horror fan who appreciates the works of Cronenberg, Lynch and Hideo Nakata.
The Spanish release of Fausto 5.0 is the only edition currently available with English subtitles. It features good audio and video but only a limited selection of extras. There is a French edition that benefits from the inclusion of a Spanish DTS track, but it features French subtitles only.
The Spanish edition can be purchased from Spanish online retailers DVDGo and Veoveo as well as the US-based supplier Poker Industries.