Director: José Luis Montesinos
Despite the successes of feminism, the woman-in-peril film still lingers on. This low budget thriller from Spain about a woman being pursued by a rapid dog inevitably will be compared to Cujo, the 1983 movie based on Stephen King’s novel, but in fact it has more in common with Wait Until Dark, the Audrey Hepburn film of 1967. It might be best dusting down those DVDS before watching Ropes.
Wait Until Dark, based on a play by Frederick Knott, was a woman-in-peril film with a twist: the Hepburn character was blind. In the film she battles with two intruders in her flat, but by turning off the lights she gains an advantage over the men trying to kill her. Ropes (more sensibly called Prey in Spain) is also a woman-in-peril film with a twist. In this case, the woman is quadriplegic and confined to an electric wheelchair.
Elana has moved to the country where her father is in the process of adapting the house to suit her needs. He’s also trained his dog to help. Around the house are a series of ropes that the dog, Athos, can pull down to open windows and close doors. However, Elena, despite his help, doesn’t much care for Athos; she prefers her pet ferret, Luke.
But both Elena and Luke are in danger when Athos gets bitten by a bat and develops, presumably, rabies, along with an inextinguishable desire to attack. Elena, who can only raise one hand an inch or so, must use her wits to fight her assailant. Can she survive? Do we really care? The fact that she was so horrible to Athos in the first place makes it hard to warm to our hero making the film seem a long 90-minutes.
Elena is played by able-bodied actor Paula del Rio, a casting that may seem a little disingenuous in 2020. It’s quite a tough role to play as Elena is depressed and full of guilt about the car crash which paralysed her and which also killed her sister. Too much time is given over in the film to Elena musing on the past instead of the present where there’s an angry dog at the door barking to be let in. With just some froth around his mouth, Athos looks more goofy than terrifying, with the result that this film isn’t scary at all.
José Luis Montesinos’s film does seem like money for old rope. It lacks originality, and it’s untroubled by any comic moments. At the end of 2020, knowing the havoc that can be caused by a bat, Ropes is timely, but this old dog has lost its bite entirely,
Released on digital platforms on 19 November 2020