From the Archives: CFF 2017: The Night of the Virgin review

From the Archives: CFF 2017: The Night of the Virgin review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Oh my god what the hell did I just watch? I mean, holy crap, there are some things you simply can’t unsee, and many of these things happen in The Night of the Virgin, and if you have the stomach for this sort of thing, you absolutely should not let this manic piece of genre brutality pass you by. I cannot and will not put into words precisely what is depicted throughout the course of this film, partially because I don’t want to spoil the fun, but mostly because I would have to use language which is not fit for print. Yes, it’s THAT crazy. In fact, it’s probably the first time I ever used the colloquial “I can’t even” without a hint of forethought or irony, and even now, a few days beyond my initial viewing, I still can’t. Even.

I’ll give you the bare bones basics of the plot: Nico is an awkward young man who plans to use the New Years Eve festivities as an opportunity to lose his virginity. When he meets eyes with Medea, what immediately follows seems too good to be true. She’s an older woman, exotic, and she doesn’t appear to be messing around. She wants to take Nico to bed. Now. The two leave the party and immediately go back to her place. Her place, however, leaves some to be desired. It’s a bit grimy, pretty heavily infested with cockroaches, and it features a handful of strange spiritual relics, including a jar of menstrual blood, which would give just about anyone pause … unless they were blinded by the desire to get laid.

Early in their encounter, Medea’s jealous ex-boyfriend starts banging on the door, demanding to be let in so he can lay a beating on Nico, and it’s only the first in a series of exponentially gruesome and terrifying escalations, ultimately reaching a level of pure madness that few films ever so much as touch — ever want to touch.

When things get particularly excessive, director Roberto San Sebastián never lets the the viewer off the hook, drawing out the most harrowing moments well beyond the point where most would have had enough, furthermore refusing to cut away from excruciatingly long takes or grant any respite from the stomach-churning imagery.

And while I really can’t tell you what happens, I will say this: The Night of the Virgin is much more than just an exercise in shock. By pulling a gender swap on the physical threat for which all one-night stands have potential, Sebastián adds a level of horror which lasts long after the credits roll. If one can look beyond just the surface-level terrors, there’s many a thoughtful discussion to be had.

Don’t miss this one. Maybe avoid eating first.

The Night of the Virgin is having its Philadelphia premiere as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival this Saturday, April 22. Event details and tickets here.

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