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A modern silent thatís gory, erotic and quite fine all around.  Presenting 1970ís-era sexploitation within a silent movie format is a risky proposition, but the mix works beautifully, as does the film as a whole. 

The Package 
     HIS LAST REQUEST, lensed in Madrid and lasting roughly a half hour, was completed in 2005 and thus far has received a good reception on the festival circuit.  Writer-director Simon Birrell is a longtime associate of the legendary Spanish sleazemeisters Jess Franco and Jose Ramon Larraz (who reportedly helped out with the production), and has created a film at once elegant and sleazy, pinpointing the best elements of both filmmakers.
     Another noteworthy participant is the veteran actor Jack Taylor in the lead role.  Taylor is something of a horror icon in Europe, having appeared in films by the likes of Franco (SUCCUBUS), Larraz, Leon Klimovsky, Amando De Ossorio and Roman Polanski (THE NINTH GATE), and HIS LAST REQUEST makes for a worthy addition to Taylorís repertoire. 

The Story 
     A wealthy old man, confined to a wheelchair, endeavors to get his finances in order, knowing heís going to die soon.  His officious daughter helps out, and even takes a hand in finding a nurse to care for her father. 
     A deeply alluring woman turns up for the position.  The man is understandably smitten, but his daughter senses trouble and elects to send the woman away.  Her father overrules her, however, and hires the seductress on the spot. 
     Once the nurse is settled into her job the man directs her to a box under his bed containing a slutty outfit.  He also decides itís time to reveal his last request.  Weíre not privy to what that request is, but evidently itís pretty untoward, as the woman immediately dismisses it...or does she? 
     For reasons that arenít immediately clear, the nurse takes the request seriously.  After dressing up in the proffered slutty uniform for the old manís edification, she finally gives him what he wants.  The nature of what that entails is a shock, and a deeply perverse one, but the real surprise is yet to come...and itís far, far nastier! 

The Direction 
     Iím unsure of what significance the silent movie overlay may have, but it does lend the material an interest it wouldnít otherwise possess.  Plus it serves as a potent reminder of the elemental power of black and white, which gives the proceedings an appropriately dreamy, hyper-real aura.  The B&W stock also works wonders on the features of the actors, particularly those of Iris Diaz as the nurse (comparing the near-inhumanly sexy vixen of this film with the photos on Diazís website is like viewing two different people).
     None of this would mean much, of course, if the film werenít so skillfully made.  It has a sleek and professional sheen, with superbly composed visuals and extremely deliberate lighting.  The contrast between light and shadow is evident from the start (the nurse is nearly always seen in shades of darkness), and grows increasingly pronounced as the deceptively calm, quiet atmosphere builds to a deliriously horrific climax.
     The performances of Jack Taylor (Old Man), Iris Diaz (Nurse) and Carmen Vadillo (Daughter) are exemplary, all accomplished entirely without dialogue yet with a welcome absence of silent movie histrionics.  Good music, too, by Mike Sobieski, who contributes an ominous string score that effectively underscores the drama, in which teasing perversity gives way to outright perversion, and finally to murder.

Vital Statistics 


Director: Simon Birrell
Producer: Martha Orozco
Screenplay: Simon Birrell
Cinematography: Pablo Baudet
Editing: Leixandre Froufe
Cast: Jack Taylor, Iris Diaz, Carmen Vadillo, Ramon Rados

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