Invisible Guardian (original Title: El guardian invisible) is directed by
Fernando González Molina (Palm Trees in the Snow, Brain Drain). Produced in Spain from the popular novel by Dolores Redondo. Guardian is a very European mystery/thriller that has a small supernatural element to it…I’ll get to that later. The film stars Marta Etura (Man of a Thousand Faces, Last Days)as police inspector Amaia Salazar who must solve a series of murders in her home town of Elizondo. The film is entirely in Spanish (with some short breaks of English) so those of you not fluent will have to watch with subtitles. I don’t mind subtitles at all, in fact I leave them on all the time since if I miss hearing something I can always just check what was actually said. Netflix does offer a dubbed option, but my personal preference is to hear the original actors performance.
Right off I’ll tell you I enjoyed Invisible Guardian quite a bit. While some people find British or European thrillers to be a little lacking on “thrills”, I personally love the suspense and the engaging characters they bring to bear as opposed to car chases and gun play so prevalent in US productions. The film was shot on location in Spain and features some wonderfully spooky settings brilliantly captured by one of my favorite cinematographers, Flavio Martínez Labiano (The Shallows, Non-Stop). While beautiful, there was a ever present sense of foreboding throughout the film that you just couldn’t shake. Eve during the daylight scenes when it wasn’t raining you felt something ominous hanging over the whole film.
The story starts out pretty much as you would expect for a murder mystery, with a body. In this story however it is the naked body of a teenage girl that is found on the banks of the River Baztán, and is linked to a similar murder one month prior. The quaint nearby village of Elizondo is immediately gripped with rumors and speculation about who or what exactly is responsible. Is this the work of a ritualistic killer or is it the ‘Basajaun’, the ‘invisible guardian’ of Basque mythology? FBI trained Inspector Amaia Salazar is asked to lead the investigation, taking her back to the heart of the Basque country where she was born. Unfortunately for her, it is a place where she hoped never to return. The entire countryside is shrouded in mist and surrounded by impenetrable forests, a perfect place to hide secrets. While nature can be serene, it can also be a host of unresolved conflicts and a terrible secrets. Amaia’s troubled childhood, something she abruptly left behind her years ago, comes back to haunt her. Now faced with the superstitious villagers, impatient superiors on the police force, and her own estranged family, Amaia must try to suppress the demons of her past I order to confront the reality that a serial killer is on the loose. As she gets deeper into the investigation, she begins to feel the strange presence of something darker lurking in the shadows just out of view. Is there something to the legends of the ‘Basajaun’?
I don’t want to spoil any of the unexpected elements in the movie. I mentioned before there is a small supernatural component to this film. Don’t expect a ghost story or any monsters lurking about…but there is something out of the ordinary and I did really enjoy how that was played out. I’m anxiously awaiting for the 2020 release of the next movie in the series, Ofrenda a la tormenta which will reunite the creative team that brought us Invisible Guardian.