This promising but frustrating debut feature from Spanish commercials director Gabe Ibáñez opens with a jarring, disorientating car crash before easing into a more ambient psychological thriller that is, in effect, a sub-Polanski study of a woman torn apart by grief. While on a ferry to the island of Hierro, Maria (Elena Anaya) falls asleep; when she wakes up, her five-year-old son, Diego (Kaiet Rodríguez), is missing. Six months later, Maria returns to the island to identify the body of a young boy, but it’s not Diego. Convinced her son was kidnapped, Maria slides into a somnolent state, slipping between sanity-testing lucidity and an obsessive, hallucinatory madness.
The multi-layered script by Javier Gullón (‘El Rey de la Montaña’) powerfully evokes Maria’s fractured state of mind, but both the insistent score by Zacarías M de la Riva and Ibáñez’s highly stylised direction are overwrought. The film’s uneven tone, alternating between dream-like atmospherics and melodramatic suspense, distracts us from Anaya’s intense, moving performance with fidgety details, arbitrary close-ups of insects and a CG flock of birds that creates a flap about nothing.