Phenomena is a Spanish Netflix horror-comedy movie by Spanish director, Carlos Therón. Available in both the original language with subtitles and badly dubbed English, Phenomena brings a little light-hearted humor into a tried and tested genre.
Steer Well Clear of the Dubbed Version of Phenomena
Please, for the love of God and all that’s holy, be sure to stay away from the dubbed version of Phenomena. Like most foreign movies, it’s better to watch the original language version than to submit yourself to the abject torture of the dubbing that we – very briefly – tried out.
Spanish is a beautifully flowing language that sounds great in any movie. However, in Phenomena this is replaced by a ridiculously over-the-top New York accent that makes the three main characters sound like they’re straight out of Russian Doll. It just doesn’t match the faces and oftentimes adds an extra – albiet accidental – comedy element.
On the flip side, the subtitles are accurate, comprehensive, and subtle enough to not intrude on the viewing. Furthermore, the dialog sounds free-flowing and natural as opposed to the awkwardly wooden dubbing.
Phenomena is Based – Loosely – on a True Story
Despite the outlandish air that Phenomena carries, it’s actually loosely based on a true story. The movie follows the very real ‘Hepta Group’. Headed by a Father Pilon (a character in the movie), the Hepta Group was created to investigate a sudden spike in paranormal activity in Spain during the eighties.
Phenomena follows the group as they investigate a possible poltergeist in a local residence. With a student-physicist in tow, the ghost-hunting collective first try and rule out any obvious or scientific explanations; showing the viewer that the group aren’t the charlatans often associated with paranormal investigation while building nicely on the story as the group bounce off each other in a vocal tennis match, laced with endearing wit.
It’s the camaraderie and gallows humor shown by the team that lends Phenomena a welcome comedy element. Not usually fans of comedy invading the horror genre, we were surprisingly pleased with how the to-and-fro banter was nicely woven into the story. All of a certain age, the ladies of Hepta are reminiscent of Streep and Hawn in their iconic roles in the timeless movie, Death Becomes Her.
Phenomena Won’t Keep You Awake at Night
While Phenomena is full of whimsical charm, it’s sadly lacking in the ol’ scares department. The movie is full of horror cliches and platitudes, but the comedy element often overshadows its horror counterpart. There’s a scene toward the end that briefly shows some promise of psychological horror, but this is fleeting and doesn’t quite turn the dial up enough to offer any real scares.
Phenomena – Summary
Thanks to the comedy dotted throughout, Phenomena is a movie that will forever be in our minds. The group’s constant wisecracks and practiced repartee shows how easy they are around each other and just how seasoned they are in their common field.
However, as with any comedy horror movie, the balance is often tipped. Phenomena strays far too often into the comedic realms and consequently dilutes any intentionally scary moments. Furthermore, with Horrify being a website dedicated to all things horror, it has to be scored as such.
With that being said, it would be an ideal start for those looking into delving into the world of horror, or those that don’t hope for sleepless nights when settling into a movie.
Phenomena is available to stream now on Netflix. While it won’t turn your hair white, it will offer some surprisingly on-point funny moments and introduce you to some unforgettably brilliant characters.