The hybridization of genres of the series The Other Side, which transits all the time between naturalistic horror and comedy, is so particular that it has become one of the obsessions of its creator, Berto Romero. "We had to find a balance between these two contrasting sensations such as laughing and being afraid," he says. He has worked so it that he confesses to having lost perspective. "On paper, in the script, that combination works, but a shoot is devastating, it breaks everything, because it divides the story into pieces. From so much crushing it, nothing makes you funny or anything scares you. You have to trust your initial intuition, the one that drove the project while you were coming up with it and writing it," he says.
There are only a few hours left for its six half-hour chapters to be screened this Sunday for the first time before the public, during the increasingly televised San Sebastian film festival. It will be the reactions of the people that reveal to what extent the pieces of his story have fit together. This new original series Movistar Plus + in collaboration with El Terrat (The Mediapro Studio) will premiere on the platform before the end of the year.
The cost of this hybridization is that, explains Romero, "neither terror can be excessively oppressive nor humor very histrionic." To achieve this exercise of tonal tightrope walking, he has resorted to the direction of Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro, who were already behind the cameras of Look what you have done, alsofor Movistar Plus +.
"We wanted the viewer to be dislocated and surprised," says Ruiz Caldera from the Basque city. "The tone, beyond what the script gave us, was coming out in the shooting, during the process of rehearsals with the actors and testing the technical resources we had. Often, we didn't know if it was going to work until we saw it edited on screen," De Toro continues.
Maria Botto co-stars in the series, halfway between naturalistic horror and comedy. Movistar Plus+
With references to the raw fear of the cinema of William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist, who died a few weeks ago) and a type of realistic comedy that he already tested in his previous joint project, the team of The Other Side flees from a type of stylized terror in excess, "to avoid common places," defends Romero. Here there is no abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Instead, they built on a Barcelona set two cheap and soulless flats in which the characters feel trapped as happens to them with their own lives. "We have spent the money precisely on making the scenarios shabby, but believable," say the two directors of the series.
One of his narrative resources to achieve this fusion of genres has been the permanent game of mirrors of the story. Combining at the same time a comical sex scene with a tense séance or a nasty suicide attempt with an absurd ayuasca session are key moments to understand what the creators have tried to do with The Other Side. They are very different scenes from each other, shot at different times, but knowing that they would be united in the editing. "You had to finish a comedy sequence with an impact and a shocking sequence with a joke. It was a strange exercise of trying to bury the laughter with a very dramatic situation that is happening at the same time," explains Romero.
'Poltergeist' in a beehive flat
The Catalan, also the protagonist of the series, plays Nacho, a journalist specialized in the paranormal who lives a bad personal and professional moment. After a failed suicide attempt, he comes back to life accompanied by the ghost of his mentor, Dr. Estrada, mythical communicator of the mystery who died more than 20 years ago and who plays his mentor in real life, Andreu Buenafuente.
This return of the couple coincides with the discovery of a powerful poltergeist case in a beehive apartment on the outskirts of Barcelona. In it live Eva, a widowed woman, and her son Rubén. With the help of the spirit of his mentor and Juana, his right hand in his old radio program, the protagonist tries to unravel the mystery around the ghosts that terrorize the woman and the child. He will also face a dark secret from his past. It is a matter that directly relates him to Gorka Romero, who was his research partner and who is now the new icon of mystery journalism in Spain.
"They are characters that a priori we could consider parodiable; They are losers who are located around the world of parapsychology, so given to mockery. But we prefer to avoid the fat brush and restrain ourselves, applying a very respectful look on them, showing their nobility, "says Romero.
Berto Romero, left, and Andreu Buenafuente posed this Sunday at the presentation of the series 'The other side', at the 71st San Sebastian Film Festival.Javi Colmenero (EFE)
Maria Botto builds Eva, who is for the directors the key character of the plot. "Maria is a horror movie geek and helped us push her to go a little further. His intuition and his dedication on a physical level (because he often did not resort to doubles) have raised the final result, "defends De Toro and Ruiz Caldera. The end result is a ghost story of all kinds. There is an obvious one (the one played by Buenafuente), but there are also "the ghost of lies, the ghost of what you could have been and are not, the ghost of the inheritance you have received from your mentors ...", says its creator. The ghosts of Berto himself also appear. It is no coincidence that one of the characters bears his surname. Gorka Romero, the host of a hit TV show specializing in paranormal affairs, plays with the idea of "that other thing that could have been me working on television."
Because much more caustic is the look that the series throws on the media. As a child, Romero did not watch entertainment programs, but fiction and that is why he has turned to it in his work on the small screen. In a recent interview on the Catalan channel TV3, he confessed that he had almost never enjoyed doing television. "I've really enjoyed doing television, but I realized it was because of the type of television I did. I was lucky enough to fall into an author's program, that of Buenafuente, in which I was given a lot of freedom to express myself creatively, in a section with its own narrative. The soul of television, as I feel it, is not so much storytelling, but creating impactful moments. And that doesn't interest me much. Television is a machine for shredding people and ideas. He is capable of making television, of turning even the most countercultural ideas into his own food," he argues.
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