July 5, 2018 The Night of the Virgin (Movie Review)
“New Year, new me,” right? This cliché is just as guaranteed to drop from a lame friend as the ball in Times Square, and in The Night of the Virgin (aka La noche del virgen), a first-time feature by Director Roberto San Sebastián, change certainly comes for our protagonist. Available on multiple VOD platforms and coming to DVD July 10, 2018 via Cleopatra Entertainment, The Night of the Virgin is a gross laugher of a midnight movie.
Poor 20-year old virgin Nico (Javier Bódalo: The Devil’s Backbone 2001, Ghost Graduation 2012) can’t catch a break. Painfully awkward around women, he struggles to even be noticed. When he’s finally able to smooth his way into a dance with a lucky young lady, she promptly barfs all over his shoes. Perhaps it’s a warning of what’s to come, but at the moment it isn’t. Nico catches the eye of an older woman named Medea (Miriam Martín: Pereodistas series, Cuéntame series), who brings the neophyte home.
Of course, things go wrong almost immediately. Medea’s place is a garbage-strewn disaster, crawling with cockroaches (watch your step, she tells him, for killing them is bad luck). Her boyfriend Spider (Victor Amilibia: Down There series, Bad Weed 2018) returns home and flips out with homicidal rage towards the would-be lovers. (And there is the matter of the shrine to the Nepalese goddess Naoshi.)
Without giving away too much in terms of story details, the story takes a surreal turn into a generally chaotic adventure through and about the human body. This is a nasty little body Horror-Comedy.
What is The Night of the Virgin? San Sebastián is able to craft a concrete and insane vision of sexuality gone awry. Nico’s peers taunt him in a WhatsApp chat throughout the story about going off with Medea (whom they regard insultingly as a “grandma”). There are neighbors above Medea’s apartment audibly entwined in over-the-top gay sex. Crass sex jokes are dropped non-stop. Gender roles are displaced, mashed up and outright done away with. There is cuckoldry, a condom gag and one sequence that definitely ups the retch-quotient by about a hundred.
San Sebastián’s story is consumed with the nastier and more bizarre aspects of sex. There’s nothing in this film casting a tender eye on it, nor is there even anything here that comes remotely close to the erotic; a real Cronenbergian edge to the film emerges as a result. Sex, no matter how much we all like it, does not get a free pass in the realm of the grotesque, San Sebastián seems to be saying.
And the performances back up San Sebastián’s aims. Javier Bódalo evokes frustrating confusion as Nico. He is under attack throughout the story, dumped on by both his friends, Medea herself, and her boyfriend Spider. Spider constantly hacks at Nico’s manhood. Nico is perpetually on edge and, as the story gets weirder and weirder, his eyes reflect that burgeoning bizarreness.
Miriam Martín’s Medea stands out as well. Far more experienced, Medea carries herself with confidence. She knows what she wants and what she needs. Yet there is a strangeness to sex that does not disappear even after we are familiar with it. Medea’s dedication to Naoshi underlines this, suggesting sex sort of is an ancient ritual and biology is just one of the factors defining it.
The Night of the Virgin is a supremely confident film. Guillermo Guerrero’s script is taut. The characters rarely dump info in dialogue; it’s smartly fed into situations where it can create a sense foreboding or add to tension. San Sebastián allows the overall weirdness of Guerrero’s work to breathe. That said, despite the mostly manic pulse of the film, there are periods where it slows. The film never feels like it’s dragging, though.
The Night of the Virgin is a film tailor-made for Horror enthusiasts and cult film fans. It is a gory and disgusting mess of a film, in a good way. For that, CrypticRock gives The Night of the Virgin 3 out of 5 stars.