By Dave B.
Errementari (Netflix) is a Basque-language fairytale about a village blacksmith who sold his soul to a demon and then trapped the demon in his forge when the it came to collect payment. A young orphan girl sneaks into the forge and is tricked into releasing the demon, causing a chain of events that involve fearful townsfolk rallying against the loner blacksmith, as well as the arrival in the village of one of Hell’s most powerful demonic entities, and culminating in the blacksmith single-handedly battling his way through Hell armed with only chickpeas and a golden bell.
Unfortunately, I watched the English dub of Errementari and frankly, it’s pretty bad, at least in the first half of the 99 minute film. This is especially noticeable as the first half of the movie is nearly devoid of action of any sort. I won’t call it boring, but the setup for the second half of the movie is extensive. That said, the forest setting of the blacksmith’s forge is suitably spooky, and bad dubbing aside, some of the performances, particularly Kandido Uranga’s (who plays Patxi the blacksmith) are solid. And Errementari ends strongly. The tension and scene setting from early in the movie aren’t wasted as Patxi shows why he’s respected and feared by all of Hell’s denizens.
It was also just very cool to finally see a Basque movie. It was my first experience watching one and I found the structure and content of the fairytale to be fascinating. However, inexperience with Basque culture may also be at the root of my main problem with the movie: namely, its inconsistent tone. At times, Errementari seems to be a dark fairytale with elements of horror. But at other times, it comes off as a slapstick comedy. The repeated transition between these two elements is jarring, distracting, and confusing.
I really want to like Errementari. It’s interesting, unique, and provides a glimpse into a culture that I’ve always wanted to know more about. For those reasons, I’m marginally recommending it. But its inconsistent tone and its inability to convey how seriously it wants to be taken mean that it isn’t a movie that I’ll be watching again any time soon or going out of my way to suggest that people see. If you feel differently about it, let me know! I’d love to hear how others view this interesting, but flawed film.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.