Venus (2022) poster

Venus (2022)


Spain/USA. 2022.


Director – Jaume Balaguero, Screenplay – Jaume Balaguero & Fernando Navarro, Producers – Carolina Bang & Alex de la Iglesia, Photography – Pablo Rosso, Music – Vanessa Garde, Visual Effects Supervisor – Ruben Algarra, Visual Effects – Cubica VFX (Supervisors – Ruben Algarra, Joan Amer & Cesc Bienzobas) & Telson (Supervisor – Ramon Cavera), Special Effects Supervisor – Oscar Abades, Makeup Effects Design – David Ambit, Production Design – Patrick Salvador. Production Company – Pokeepsie Films/The Fear Collection II AIE/Prime Video/Sony Pictures International Productions/CreaSGRs.


Ester Exposito (Lucia Amparo), Ines Fernandez (Alba Selvas), Angela Cremonte (Rocio Selvas), Magua Mira (Margarita Soliño), Federico Aguado (Victor Salinas), Pedro Bachura (Arruza), Francisco Boira (Calvo), Fernando Valdivieso (Moro), Aten Soria (Romina), Maria Jose Sarrate (Rosita), Sofia Reyes (Olivia), Sonsoles Benedicto (Aunt Galga)


Lucia, a platform dancer at a rave nightclub, steals a bag filled with pills from a locker at the club. Just before she leaves, the bouncer Moro tries to stop her and stabs her in the leg. Lucia heads to her where her sister Rocio lives at the rundown Venus apartment building and pleads to stay. Rocio reluctantly agrees to let Lucia stay for one night. However, when Lucia wakes in the morning, Rocio has gone missing, leaving her young daughter Alba behind. Meanwhile, the club manager Victor Salinas has been given orders by his underworld boss Arruza to retrieve the drugs. They begin searching everywhere for Lucia, including employing a clairvoyant. At the same time, Lucia thinks there are sinister things going on in the Venus Building, while Alba claims that the people in the attic are entering through her nightmares and giving her strange objects.

Jaume Balaguero has become a major name in Spanish horror since the 2000s. Balaguero has directed the likes of the occult film The Nameless (1999), the haunted house/occult film Darkness (2002), the ghost story Fragile (2005), Sleep Tight (2011) about a sinister apartment manager and Muse (2017). The work he is best known for is the Found Footage zombie film [Rec] (2007), which he co-directed with Paco Plaza. He and Plaza also co-directed its sequel [Rec] 2 (2009), while Balaguero solo directed the third and last sequel [Rec]4: Apocalypse (2014). In addition, Balaguero has also written the story for The Nun (2005), produced Summer Camp (2015) and written the script for Inside (2016). Venus is also produced by Alex de la Iglesia, the high-profile Spanish director known for films like Accion Mutante (1993), The Day of the Beast (1995) and The Bar (2017).

You are not quite sure how to peg Venus as it is starts or even whether it is a genre vehicle. It has the feel of a gritty urban crime film like Diva (1982), Run Lola Run (1998) or even the recent Kimi (2022) with an ordinary heroine plunged into a criminal underworld and fighting for her life. Jaume Balaguero does a fine job of sketching out Ester Exposito’s gamble and the menacing figures pursuing her, while producing a variety of twists and turns as the pursuit starts to get nearer, including Exposito being forced to look after her young niece (Ines Fernandez) after her sister mysteriously disappears.

Ester Exposito as Lucia in Venus (2022)
Ester Exposito as Lucia

Surprisingly, Balaguero takes at least half the film introducing Ester and her pursuers and the various complications and it is not until some way in before the occult elements come into play. There is mention of a prophecy at the start and something to do with the appearance of a new planet out of nowhere (which is basically impossible in astronomical terms – something that big would be detected by astronomers much earlier. Nor is this the planet Venus, which the title leads you to assume it is). Amid this, we do see the everyday use of magic where Francisco Boira consults a woman who uses some occult power to pinpoint on a map where Ester is.

We have had a variety of sinister apartment films before with the likes of Apartment Zero (1988), The Apartment Complex (1999), Fever (1999), The 4th Floor (1999), One Point 0/Paranoia 1.0 (2004), Next Door (2005) and 1BR (2019) – indeed, Jaume Balaguero previously made one of these with Sleep Tight about a malevolent landlord. The film heads in this direction but with the introduction of the three Witches, the film enters into another territory altogether. The three witches remind somewhat of The Lords of Salem (2012), which also had three elderly women have a strange effect on a female neighbour, or even before that something of Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980). Magua Mira in particular has an unnervingly fierce gleam in her eye and the scenes where the three of them sit down with Francisco Boira have a wonderfully sinister chill.

Jaume Balaguero doesn’t quite bring the film to a satisfying end. The film builds up to the big occult ritual but then sort of goes sideways. Not to mention, the planet moving through the solar system towards Earth is raised but then has no real relevance to anything that goes on. Nevertheless, Ester Exposito gets a satisfying ending where she gets to be a total bad ass.

Trailer here

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