The hybridization of genres in The Other Side series, constantly switching between naturalistic horror and comedy, is so special that it has become one of the obsessions of its creator Berto Romero. “We had to find a balance between these two very opposite feelings: laughing and being afraid,” he says. He’s worked so hard at it that he admits he’s lost track. “On paper and in the script, this combination works, but a shoot is devastating, it ruins everything because it splits the story into pieces. After surviving it so many times, nothing makes you happy and nothing scares you. “You have to trust your original intuition, the intuition that drove the project as you developed ideas and wrote,” he says.
There are only a few hours left until the six half-hour episodes are shown to the public for the first time this Sunday during the increasingly televised San Sebastián Film Festival. It will be people’s reactions that show how the pieces of his story fit together. This new original Movistar Plus+ series in collaboration with El Terrat (The Mediapro Studio) will premiere on the platform before the end of the year.
The price of this hybridization, explains Romero, is that “neither terror can be overly oppressive nor humor too theatrical.” To achieve this exercise in tonal tightrope walking, he turned to the direction of Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro, who have already been behind the camera for Look what you have done, also for Movistar Plus+.
“We wanted the viewer to be amazed and surprised,” says Ruiz Caldera from the Basque city. “The tone that went beyond what the script gave us emerged during filming, during the rehearsal process with the actors and when testing the technical resources at our disposal. Often we didn’t know if it would work until we saw it edited on screen,” De Toro continues.
María Botto stars in the series, halfway between horror and naturalistic 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 to a kind of realistic comedy that he had already tried out in his previous joint project, the team of “The Other Side” escapes “. a kind of stylized terror in excess, “to avoid everyday places,” defends Romero. There is no abandoned house in the middle of nowhere here. Instead, they built two cheap and soulless apartments on a Barcelona set in which the characters feel trapped in their own lives. “We just spent the money on making the scenarios seem shabby but believable,” emphasize the series’ two directors.
One of his narrative resources for achieving this genre fusion was the constant play of mirrors in the story. Simultaneously combining a comical sex scene with a tense séance, or a heinous suicide attempt with an absurd Ayuasca session, are key moments in understanding what the creators were trying to do with The Other Side. They are very different scenes, shot at different times, but with the knowledge that they would be united in the montage. “You had to end a comedy sequence with a shock and a shocking sequence with a joke. “It was a strange exercise in suppressing laughter with a very dramatic situation happening at the same time,” explains Romero.
“Poltergeist” on the floor of a beehive
The Catalan, also the protagonist of the series, plays Nacho, a journalist specializing in the paranormal who finds himself in a difficult personal and professional situation. After a failed suicide attempt, he returns accompanied by the ghost of his mentor Dr. Estrada, a mythical broker of secrets who died more than 20 years ago and is played by his real-life mentor 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. The widow Eva and her son Rubén live there. With the help of the ghost of his mentor and Juana, his right-hand man on his old radio show, the protagonist tries to unravel the mystery of the ghosts that terrorize the woman and child. He is also confronted with a dark secret from his past. This is a matter that directly links him to Gorka Romero, who was his investigative partner and is now the new icon of mystery journalism in Spain.
“They are characters that we could a priori consider as parodyable; They are losers who live in the world of parapsychology and are so prone to ridicule. But we prefer to avoid the broad brush and hold back, take a very respectful look at them and show their nobility,” says Romero.
María Botto builds Eva, who for the directors is the key figure in the plot. “Maria is a horror movie buff and she helped us push her to go a little further. His intuition and commitment on a physical level (because he often did not resort to doubles) increased the final result,” defend De Toro and Ruiz Caldera. The end result is a ghost story of all kinds. There’s an obvious one (the one played by Buenafuente), but there’s also “the ghost of lies, the ghost of what you could have been and what you couldn’t have been, the ghost of the legacy you left behind.” received from your mentors…” remarks his creator. The ghosts of Berto himself also appear. It’s no coincidence that one of the characters has his last name. Gorka Romero, the host of a hit television show specializing in paranormal themes, is toying with the idea of ”this other thing I might have worked on TV.”
Because the look that the series casts on the media is much more caustic. As a child, Romero didn’t watch entertainment shows, but rather fiction, and that’s why he turned to this in his work on the small screen. In a recent interview on the Catalan channel TV3, he admitted that he almost never enjoyed making television. “I really enjoyed doing TV, but I realized it was because of the type of TV I was doing. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a writing program, Buenafuente, where I was given a lot of freedom to express myself creatively in a section with my own narrative. The soul of television, in my opinion, is not so much about telling stories but about creating impactful moments. And I’m not that interested in that. Television is a machine for destroying people and ideas. It is capable of creating television and turning even the most countercultural ideas into its own fodder,” he argues.
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