Series review: The Other Side
- Berto Romero embodies a sort of adult version of the boy from The Sixth Sense in six episodes that, wisely mixing humour and terror, discusses dignity and journalistic ethics
It was first presented in its entirety in September at the Velodrome of the 71st San Sebastián International Film Festival. However, it was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the event's programme. In October, something similar happened during the Sitges Film Festival, just as immense as the previous year, where three of its six episodes, each lasting half an hour, were screened. And it's a pity that it went somewhat unnoticed, because the series The Other Side is, quite simply, great.
Directed by the duo Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto del Toro (who already joined forces in 3 Many Weddings [+see also:
interview: Javier Ruiz Caldera
film profile], where the latter was editor, and Malnazidos [+see also:
film profile]), the miniseries premieres today on the Movistar Plus+ platform. It relies on another pair of artistic friends, Berto Romero and Andreu Buenafuente, for a good portion of its effectiveness. The comedian (Algo muy gordo [+see also:
film profile], Spanish Affair 2 [+see also:
film profile]) gives life to Nacho Nieto, a desperate journalist specialising in paranormal phenomena who, after trying to end his bitter existence, returns to this world sometimes seeing a dead man: Doctor Estrada, his former boss in the programme La sombra del misterio, a kind of Jiménez del Oso with a moustache, a tailored suit, a stale macho man, bossy and with a decidedly un-politically correct attitude, , with a lot of tongue-in-cheek, by the famous comedian and actor.
This pair formed by a self-conscious, traumatised and shy man and a spectre who plays the role of a very annoying Jiminy Cricket will face a poltergeist case in a humble suburb of Barcelona (the flat inhabited by Eva, played by María Botto). While this anti-hero's great rival - and former colleague - Gorka Romero (a quasi-double of Iker Jiménez, leader of the programme Cuarto Milenio, played by an amusing Nacho Vigalondo), will try to take over the case in order to fill it with high doses of sensationalism and populism in his successful programme Nueva Era.
With all this as a starting point, both Romero (co-writer with Rafael Barceló and Enric Pardo) and the directors have created one of the best series (together with La Mesías [+see also:
series profile], in which Vigalondo also appears) of this magnificent season in Spain Because they have managed to combine horror, suspense, references, ghosts and comedy: after every scare, tension or drama there is a joke, commentary or something clever and daring. With staging reminiscent of Verónica [+see also:
interview: Paco Plaza
film profile] by Paco Plaza, and Almodóvar’s What Have I Done to Deserve This?, and with homages to The Exorcist, The Shining, seventies Spanish fantasy-horror and Chicho Ibáñez Serrador.
The Other Side is a pure delight for both fans of the fantastic and for fans of fine irony, complicit laughter and raw costumbrismo, Álex de la Iglesia style. With the added bonus of setting itself up, under that layer of Buenafuente-Romero's usual humorous lightness (which they have squandered on successful television programmes), as a declaration of principles - without a hint of intensity - in defence of rigorous, dignified and ethical journalism, attacking sensationalism, amateurs on social media and the cheap demagoguery used not only by some reporters, but also by too many politicians.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.