Most Beautiful Island
Time Out says
An edgy New York horror fable from first-time director Ana Asensio.
It’s amazing what difference it makes when a female director is behind the camera of a film depicting disturbing scenes of women being tormented or victimised. This no-budget US indie, the debut feature from the Spanish actress and first-time director Ana Asensio, starts out as an authentic day in the life of an undocumented immigrant in New York, before shifting into an unbearably tense horror-thriller that shocks without spilling a drop of blood.
Asensio herself plays Luciana, a brittle lonely Spanish woman in her thirties juggling a handful of off-the-books jobs, the worst of which is babysitting two bratty kids from hell.
If this stuff feels real, it’s because Asensio based it on her own experiences of life in New York after outstaying her visa. When a Russian woman Luciana knows tells her she can make $2,000 in a single night by standing around in a black cocktail dress at a party for wealthy New Yorkers, it sounds too good to be true – and so it turns out. When Luciana arrives, two heavies bundle her into a room where eight women – all disposable undocumented immigrants – wait to be shown into a ‘game room’. I won’t spoil what’s coming, but a warning to arachnophobics: don’t go anywhere near this film.
Most Beautiful Island is a modest debut that perhaps in the end stretches credibility. But in those last stomach-gnawing 25 minutes it really is a hallelujah to see the camera focused on the faces of the women and the group dynamics playing out between them – basically everywhere that’s not their legs.
Cast and crew