Directed by Augustin Villaronga
Produced by Antonio Guillen Rey & Marta Murube
Written by Lourdes Iglesias, Jesus Regueria, & Augustin Villaronga
Director of Photograpy Javier Aguirresarobe
Music by Javier Nararrete
Cast: Maria Barranco, Terele Pavez, Angel de Andres Lopez & Ruth Gabriel
1997/106 mins/Color/Digital Stereo
1.85:1/Spanish/Spain/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Ciudad/Urban Vision Entertainment DVD
When was the last time that you saw a mediocre EuroHorror film? For me, movies in this genre are either really good or really bad. The only one that I can think of that lives in that middle-ground would be Lamberto Bava's DELIRIUM, a film whose absurdity keeps from it going into the "bad" folder. The Spanish film 99.9 is the worst kind of bad EuroHorror film, as it starts out on a promising note and then wanders off the path.
99.9 opens with a naked man, whom we later learn is Victor (Gustavo Salmeron), running through a cemetery. He is clearly fleeing from something and meets his doom when he falls onto the pikes atop the cemetery fence. We then meet Lara (Maria Barranco), who hosts a radio show which deals with the paranormal (on 99.9, of course). Lara had been Victor's lover (he is the father of her child) and she is shocked when she receives a strange envelope which contains the news of Victor's demise. The envelope also has a videotape which shows Victor just before his death. Noting the postmark on the envelope, Lara decides that she must visit the village where Victor died and learn about his death.
Through flashbacks, we learn that Victor was doing research on communication with spirits. He believed that messages from spirits could be heard over open TV frequencies. He then began to suspect that human thoughts could also be broadcast this way. Lara believes that Victor was doing further research on this when he died. When Lara reaches the tiny village, no one wants to talk to her about Victor. She does learn that he had been investigating a specific house, but the owners refuse to let her into the crumbling mansion. Lara visits the matriarch of the family, Dolores (Terele Pavez), who is incarcerated in a mental hospital, but the old woman offers no clues. The bizarre owner of the local inn, Simon (Simon Andreu), and a young man, Mauri (Juan Marquez), offer some help to Lara, but she must explore Victor's death on her own and she finds that the village is hiding some dark secrets.
99.9 gets off to a great start. When a naked guy runs through a cemetery and then get impaled on a fence, you want to see what the movie is going to do next to try and top that. Unfortunately, this opening is the high-point of 99.9. The movie introduces the mystery of Victor's death and his research into telepathic communication, and then goes nowhere. Once Lara reaches the village, the movie becomes an exercise in tedium. Lara wanders the village, meets odd people, and nothing much happens. Then, suddenly, the last 15-minutes of the movie becomes a violent torture show (which isn't as exciting as it sounds). Despite the fact that we see Lara conducting her investigation, the audience is left in the dark as to the hows and whys of what's going on, and this will create apathy in many viewers. Director Augustin Villaronga, who directed the controversial IN A GLASS CAGE, creates a sense of unease at times, but, frankly, we don't know what we're supposed to be scared of. A participant at IMDB.com reports that they heard the director speak at a film festival, where he admitted that many of the film's loose-ends went unresolved and many facets of the screenplay were not explored. (Keep in mind, I'm only quoting what that particular poster reported.) If this is true, it's a shame, as 99.9 offers some interesting ideas (especially the spirit communication subplot) and has some nice performances (Barranco carries the film and is quite good), but does nothing with them. Given the current spate of horror remakes, I wouldn't mind seeing someone take another shot at 99.9 and make a more coherent film from it.
99.9 comes to DVD courtesy of Urban Vision Entertainment and Ciudad Movies. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but the transfer is not enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. It appears that the source print used for this DVD transfer was a theatrical print, as it shows a great amount of damage, and at one point, it's very clear that a tear in the film was taped back together. The digital transfer shows the many scratches and black spots on the film. There is a minor amount of grain visible on the image. The colors are somewhat washed-out and the picture is very dark at times. Artifacting defects also crop up throughout the film. The DVD carries a digital stereo audio track which is in Spanish. This track provides clear dialogue and music, but does display a slight hissing. The subtitles are burned in, but they are fairly easy to read.
The DVD contains two extra features. The first is the theatrical trailer for 99.9, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1. (There are also bonus trailer for some other Spanish films.) The other extra is a making-of featurette for 99.9, which runs about 20-minutes. The problem is that it's in Spanish with no English subtitles. This segment features comments from director Villaronga and the cast, as well as a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage, but, as I don't speak Spanish, I had no idea what was going on.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©