Monday, February 22, 2010

nucingen house (ruiz, 2008)

Ruiz, no stranger to the haunted house (his 1979 masterpiece, Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, is, among other things, a “wax museum” horror film), plays with the plasticity of the video medium with as much relish as he explores the boundaries of the subject and source material. Nucingen House seems only to tell its story (a man wins a country estate in a card game; its to-be-evicted residents resort to ghost stories and absurdities, perhaps to convince him to leave, perhaps simply because it’s a package deal) to keep up appearances, staking out a small square of narrative turf in order to explore what can be done with it. And he does a lot. Shooting on high-definition digital video, Ruiz measures the latitude encompassing the inappropriate and the genteel, savoring the textures of earth, wood, and foliage on the outside, lace, tapestry, and wallpaper on the inside. Ghosts appear and disappear, beautiful scenery is cut against ugliness and decay, while Ruiz finds room for a brain-eating zombie, doll violence, and identity confusion.

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