Sunday, October 11, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Baztán Trilogy

Spent the day watching all the movies of the Baztán Trilogy today. I had plans, but these movies sucked me in.  I debated whether or not they count as horror.  They are typical police murder dramas on the surface. But beyond that they feature child sacrifice, ancient witch cults, good vs evil, mind control, and at least three different mythological monsters that were all (mostly) new to me.  So yeah, I am going to call it horror.

The Invisible Guardian (2017)

This is the first of the trilogy.  The story takes place in Baztan, Navarre in the Basque region of Spain near France. It is a lovely, picturesque countryside and one is immediately reminded of such folk horror movies like "The Wicker Man."  Like The Wicker Man, this area is steeped in ancient superstitions and folklore and this plays into these stories. 

The story focuses on inspector Amaia Salazar.  She is the chief homicide inspector and is investigating the murder of a 13-year girl.  During the investigation, she has to return to home town and deal with her sisters.  Amaia left years ago to join the FBI and there is an obvious rift between her and her family.  This rift is investigated and how it relates to her case.  Soon more girls turn up murdered and the killer is dubbed "El Basajaún", named for a forest creature from the region. 

During the investigation, there is an obvious occult connection, but one that does not become obvious right away.

There are a lot of questions, even when the murderer is discovered.  One is, is Basajaún real?  We hear it's weird whistling in the forest in the mountains. Something pulls Inspector Salazar from her car wreck.  Something directs the detectives to the cave where tons of human bones are. And we catch a glimpse of something large and hairy in the distance. 

The Legacy of the Bones (2019)

It's a year or so later and Amaia Salazar has a new baby boy and is drawn back to Baztan where there is a string of unrelated suicides. Unrelated save they all ask for her before they kill themselves and they leave a word behind, usually scrawled in the victims on blood, Tartalo; another monster from the Basque region that may have had something to do with the local witchcraft covens.

We also learn more about Amaia's relationship with her institutionalized mother who tried to kill her on several occasions when she was a girl. Likely part of the reason she left the family to live in America for a while. 

The movie focuses on the bones found in the local cave and how there has been a long history of cult-like killings. 

Amaia also gets closer to a local judge while her American husband is pushed further away.   

The climax comes when Amaia's mother escapes a clinic run by the Opus Dei.  She kidnaps her grandson, thinking it is a granddaughter, to sacrifice "her."   Amaia stops her by pointing out it that it is a boy that ruins the sacrifice. 

Her mother manages to escape and everyone, save Amaia, thinks she drowns in the flood.

Offering to the Storm (2020)

The final chapter ties together all sorts of plot threads.  Amaia is having an affair with Judge Juez Markina.  More murdered baby girls are turning up and they all seem to lead back to a single house in the country.  A house where Amaia's mother used to frequent with other women.   Sound like a witch cult? Yeah. It does.  And the similarities don't end there.  The members of the cult will make a sacrifice and then become very rich. The ones that don't have their lives destroyed.  

We learn that the children, all baby girls, were sacrificed to a demon named Inguma.  A demon that causes nightmares and kills babies in their sleep.  Dismissed today as a way to explain crib death.

In the process, Amaia learns that she had a twin sister who must have been sacrificed as a baby. Her bones were discovered in the cave from the first movie.  There are all sorts of other spooky things going on that would be a spoiler to share, but suffice to say that the Basque Witch cult that everyone talks about in the past tense in this movie is very much a current thing. 

Amaia hunts down members of the cult and learns her mother was an active member and she was supposed to be a sacrifice herself.  Also, the girls killed in the first movie were girls who were supposed to have been killed as babies. 

The movies are good on their own, but like the Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) they are better as a series.  Also, like the Millennium series, it shows that the evilest monsters are humans.

Watched: 18
New: 12

I am starting my next movie now, so I will post something for Monstrous Monday tomorrow.

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