The Invisible Guardian (original title El guardián invisible) is a Spanish Thriller from 2017, directed by Fernando González Molina and the first of the Baztán Trilogy. In it, a detective gets back to her hometown to investigate a series of murders.
After working for the FBI, Amaia Salazar (played by Marta Etura) is back to her country, working for the Police of Navarre in Pamplona as an inspector. Then a body is found in Baztán, her hometown, a one-hour-drive from Pamplona. It’s a clean, naked corpse of a teenager, with the palms up and a txantxigorri on the genitals.
Txantxigorri is a little cake typical of the Navarre cuisine, usually made during the vicious homicide of innocent pigs. It uses their fat and fried pieces, with other ingredients to make the pastry. We also taught how to make Feijoada in this channel, if you’re interested, check the Macunaíma review.
Amaia and her husband James (played by Benn Northover) go to her Aunt Engrasi (played by Itziar Aizpuru). There is also living Amaia’s sister, Rosaura (played by Patricia López Arnaiz), who’s going through a divorce.
Officer Jonan (played by Nene) and the inspector find enough similar cases to determine they’re dealing with a Serial Killer. So the two engage in an investigation that might even involve the bakery administered by Flora (played by Elvira Mínguez), the oldest sister of Amaia.
The Invisible Guardian and the whole Baztán Trilogy is based on the noir novels written by Dolores Redondo. She also wrote The North Face of the Heart (La cara norte del corazón) a prequel to the trilogy, still without a movie adaptation.
Right now, let’s focus on the first one. The plot pleased me, despite some inconsistencies with reality. It’s compelling, full of dimension that includes a rich back-story for the leading character.
The focus of the film is both on the investigation as in the protagonist’s life. There’s also little pinches of folkloric supernatural element, that end up having its relevance and even give the movie its name.
The investigation is straightforward, without many suspects and some very categorical clues. There are some aspects of the serial killer that didn’t convince me much, for example, the spam of years without killing. They came up with a justification for it, but I didn’t feel it was a realistic one.
The characters are a little bland. One of my favorites is Sub-inspector Jonan, who shows to be a very competent assistant to the lead investigator. Sadly, there’s not much of him in the movie. There’s also Aunt Engrasi, she is great, the typical role of a caring granny.
My sympathy for Amaia was more for her story and protagonism than her personality. She doesn’t show a lot of it in this first movie, and her interactions with the two worst characters don’t help at all.
James, Amaia’s husband, is just there, he’s actually the character who usually were exclusive of women, as the wife who whines about how much the husband works. It’s a shit character regardless of gender. However, when it’s a woman it’s worse because there’s the misogyny aspect on top of the awful role aspect.
But the worst of them all is Aloisius Dupree (played by Colin McFarlane), who’s an American mentor for Amaia. He simply didn’t need to exist. Maybe in the sequels he has some importance, but in this first, he’s useless.
I don’t have anything to say about the acting, really. Everyone is good enough, very competent, and professional level, but no one was demanded from the bland characters. I just hope it gets better in the other installments.
What makes the movie stand out to me was the atmosphere of it, fitting perfectly with this investigative thriller. Starting with the awesome location. An old, small town, surrounded by woods and with frequent rains.
The cinematography is also excellent in every single aspect. The colors match the tone and enhance the gorgeous shots of the environment. There are darkness and forces of nature, like the already mentioned rain, and the fog, but we’re never let in complete darkness.
However, what I liked the most about the cinematography were the camera movements. They were visually compelling and put us in the point of view of the characters in essential moments. My favorite one is a flashback of Amaia’s childhood, which helped immensely feel empathy for her character.
Now the cadavers. I believe they were dolls, and I liked them a lot. They were a gruesome sight because they’re dead girls, but they’re not exposed just for the shock value, but to show how the killer was meticulous. On top of that, they were really well made, especially the wounds.
The score is among the things that built the perfect atmosphere. It’s not amazing, it’s good and matches the movie well. However, one song stood above the others: Espérame En El Cielo by Antonio Machín. It’s an old song that gives a haunting aspect in the way it’s played in the film.
I love investigations. I watch true-crime shows, fictional movies, and series. So, my interests plus the outstanding atmosphere of the movie resulted in a very positive experience for me. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone, but especially for those with the same interests as me.
The Invisible Guardian is a dark, mystery-thriller with a fascinating atmosphere, the type of movie I love. The flaws weren’t enough to put me off, and some might have been corrected in the sequels. We’ll see. I’ll give The Invisible Guardian, 8 Moons.
Thanks a lot. See you soon.
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