Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

This Spanish supernatural thriller was occasionally tedious, but it was visually just fabulous, the color schemes of scene after scene were skewed enough to sustain an eeriness even when nothing was happening, & to give an impression that these characters live in a world whose very colors & textures are different from what most of us can see & experience.

IntactoThe main premise of the film is that "luck" is a tangible article that may be stolen or gambled, though only by certain individuals with the "gift" of manipulating luck, who are the psychic vampires living among us, & who are predisposed to gamble away the lives of others with scarsely any concern even for their own lives.

One weakness in the way this idea is developed is the script tosses in unconvincing elements. The goal of the luck-vampires is to defeat the Master of Destinies, the luckiest man on earth, who has held the title for thirty years; we are never given any reason that lucky people throughout the world would want to play Russian roulette with someone who is the ultimate luck-vampire, since even if they did win, it would be a complete bore to live his reclusive minimalist life experiencing nothing in between duels of luck.

Just as unexplained & therefore unconvincing is how Żluck can be captured in photographs & thereby used as trading cards or gambling tokens. How this photo-magic would work, & why everybody's luck wouldn't already be caught in thousands of earlier photographs or security video cameras, is never explored or explained. Because I remained unconvinced of this magical element, much of the rest of the film's premise fell apart for me. But I kept struggling to go with the flow, & by the film's visual elegance & quality of acting, it pulled me through most of the show.

One of the "irrational" components of the film is its real point, though, & this contradiction works: These luck-vampires are in the main extremely miserable unhappy people addicted to gambling because their lives are so empty. It seems it's really very unlucky to have as much luck as they have. The lucky afflict everyone who does not share their luck. It becomes impossible to love successfully, because the mere proximity to "normal" people causes their luck to be drained into the luck-vampire, resulting in one's loved ones being the unluckiest people of all. And how can it ever be lucky to inevitably inflict pain & death on anybody one dares to bond with or love?

I appreciated Intacto's sincerity & its attempt to make a thriller be a serious film rather than the usual mindless action. I couldn't help but feel the script needed a little more work to carry conviction, but even with its lapses of internal logic, this is a strangely effective little chiller with a beautiful sharp-focus harsh-contrasts noirish look.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl

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