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  Sacred Spirit, The Secrets Of Space
Year: 2021
Director: Chema Garcia Ibarra
Stars: Various
Genre: Drama, Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A little girl has gone missing in this small Spanish town, and the police have no real leads to follow up, so a television plea goes out nationally which features her mother and her twin sister. The latter is dressed identically to when the girl vanished, complete with a cat backpack, in the hope memories may be jogged, but the days continue to pass with no further progress and the mother is beginning to get desperate. Her mother had been a psychic before she fell victim to dementia, and now lives with her son, a UFO enthusiast and café bar owner who attends regular meetings with likeminded locals, their leader Julio enthralling them with tales of his close encounters with the space brothers...

A real curio, this followed the likes of Gummo by making a slice of life out of smalltown existence and leaving you wondering what you just watched, a collection of non-actors persuaded before the camera to perform what looked like a gentle lampoon until director Chema Garcia Ibarra apparently suffered some kind of crisis of faith and events took an exceedingly grim turn indeed. Maybe that is something you have to be prepared for before settling down with The Sacred Spirit, that it delved into some horrible areas that the target audience of UFO fans, clairvoyants and New Age adherents would definitely not appreciate. That was because, after indulging them for most of the ninety minutes or so, Ibarra spectacularly lost patience with them.

For a while you think the big reveal is that those committed to the paranormal and extra-terrestrial have been wasting their lives on a fantasy, one that has warped their expectations of the world and how it works. Not the most obvious path for a science fiction movie to take, but eventually, this was no science fiction movie and owed more of a debt to the chilly crime television series out of the rest of Europe that had proved such a hit, though not even those were so fixated on sounding such a sour note. Julio dies early into the plot, leaving his followers adrift - his son goes as far as telling them to sling their collective hook and stop hanging around the deceased's offices for their meetings anymore. Now at a loss, and possibly grieving, they throw themselves into their outre beliefs, and plan mass abductions in the nearby desert.

They've even bought the lit-up pyramid frames to stand in so the space brothers can pick them out (and up) all the better. But meanwhile, what are we to make of the other abduction narrative, the one where the little twin girl went missing? Her uncle is dedicated to looking after her sister, but seems distracted aside from taking her on a fairground ride (the closest he will get to space travel, is the ironic observation that ostensibly makes), as meanwhile everyone else around the town is utterly useless at being good neighbours. Some of them mean well, but there's no way that they would ever spot a missing child, so wrapped up in themselves and their woolly beliefs are they, which has you pondering, did the cast know what they were getting into before they made the film? These were the director's locals too, and he came across as intent on making them look ridiculous initially, and then exhibited a truly nasty streak once the twists in his tall tale were obvious and making the audience discomfited. Yes, it was strange, but even Gummo had some affection for its weirdos: here the attitude was "Fuck 'em all!"

Aka: Espiritu Sagrado

[The essential, alternative streaming service ARROW premieres THE SACRED SPIRIT on April 15 2022.

Click here to join the Arrow Player website - there's a free trial available.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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