The Wasteland Movie Review: Isolation And Hysteria Are Represented By An Intelligent Creature Feature

The Wasteland movie review

The Wasteland movie (original title El páramo) is a new Spanish horror film available on Netflix. It’s a slow-burning adventure with psychological and creature-feature themes. Thankfully, the acting is excellent! Read our complete The Wasteland movie review here!

Overview of The Wasteland movie

  • On DVD or streaming: January 6, 2022
  • The Wasteland movie cast: Inma Cuesta, Roberto Alamo, Asier Flores
  • Director: David Casademunt
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Horror
  • Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
  • Run time: 92 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
The Wasteland movie on Netflix
Wasteland movies on Netflix

The Wasteland summary

Before we get into the wasteland movie review, let’s take a look at the film’s summary.

In The Wasteland movie, Diego (Asier Flores) is a young child who lives in 19th century Spain with his parents Salvadór and (Roberto Alamo) and Lucia (Inma Cuesta). They dwell in a remote cabin, attempting to flee their country’s war and brutality. Salvadór tries to teach his son to be more of a “man of the house” in this arid land, and for his birthday, he gifts him a monogrammed weapon. Diego has resorted to treating the bunnies the family maintains in a pen as pets rather than cattle, as Lucia tries to protect him from Salvadór’s rage at Diego’s apparent timidity.

The Wasteland movie review shooting scene
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A wounded stranger floats along on a boat in a local stream, is discovered by Salvadór and Diego, and as they try to figure out how to save him, the man shows up at their home and kills himself in front of them. Later, Salvadór tells Diego about his sister, who was found dead by jumping out of a second-floor window due to a monster in their home when he was a child. Salvadór insists on leaving their home the next day to carry the dead body back to his family, leaving Lucia and Diego to fend for themselves.

Diego has nightmares about the monster and his father’s baby sister as the wind howls through the windows. Diego stands there in dread as his mother appears to be having nightmares about the creature. Diego must help put food on the table without Salvadór, even if it involves his pet bunnies. As the monster appears to be getting closer, Diego must try to prevent his mother from going insane and aid stops the beast from entering the house.

So, should we stream it or skip it? Let’s see our The Wasteland movie review below.

Salvator in The Wasteland movie review
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The Wasteland movie review

It’s possibly the eeriest and oddest coming-of-age film ever created at its best and most memorable. When the novel focuses on this part of a horrific tale of a family of three hiding out in a dismal environment in 19th century Spain while war and destruction flare and ruin their country, The Wasteland works best.

They’ve created a small safe haven, but it’s clear that the isolation is starting to wear them down. Salvadór, the father, is trying to force his son Diego to grow up faster than he can at such a young age against this harsh backdrop of grim survival. Diego has no option because his father abandons his wife and son in a questionable-at-best move. Diego’s mother’s sanity hangs by a thread, and a monster lurks outside their house, drawing ever closer.

Diego in The Wasteland movie review
The Wasteland movie review in 2022

This works in general, but not totally. For example, the father’s choice to leave seems a little too convenient and out of character given how concerned he claimed to be for his family’s safety. Maybe he just wanted an excuse to get away from his dull surroundings, but it seems more like a standard “poor and convenient horror movie decision.”

The movie’s pacing isn’t terrific, and the moments that drag are exacerbated by false expectations of horror movie jump music that, in the end, feels unneeded, as the sounds, or lack thereof, of the house and the land (to say nothing of those bunnies) is more than enough to unnerve the spectator. The acting is great, and there is an apparent sincerity in making this picture, but it feels much longer than 92 minutes, and the attempts to create a style overpower the substance.

The tempo of ‘The Wasteland’ movie is one of the reasons why it is not a mass picture or as accessible to a wider audience. Casademunt takes his time, maybe getting too comfortable at times, which leads to its own demise. This adds a lot of time to the runtime, which already feels unreasonably long. The narration has a propensity to come out as disorganized or confusing when there is no discernible plotline to follow. By being a little too adventurous, it subverts expectations. What makes it wonderful, ironically, also makes it subject to criticism.

The Wasteland Ending Explained: Is the beast real?

Salvator told Diego before he departed that this monster feeds on the weak and grows power through fear. When Diego is terrified, we see him conjure its presence out of nowhere. As the movie progresses, Diego discovers that his greatest fear is losing his mother, whether through death or self-destructive madness.

Diego is scared in The Wasteland movie review
Review The Wasteland movie: ending explained

The monster’s resemblance to dread itself clearly suggests that the monster is symbolic rather than an actual beast.

Lucia did not believe in the beast at first, but as her greatest fear—the loss of her husband and incapacity to defend her son—became a reality, she began to see it.

Diego and Lucia also do not confront the beast together, maybe due to their differing anxieties and perceptions of danger. In some scenes, their differences distance them from one another, such as when Lucia fires a shotgun shell into the forest. Diego is unable to see the beast Lucia claims to have seen, leading him to doubt and distrust his mother.

In this The Wasteland movie review, we can’t be too severe for a film about quarantining that was made in the middle of one. It’s surprising how much mileage The Wasteland movie on Netflix gets out of its premise, with only three actors total and two for the majority of the time, one set, a modest budget, and some ideas that have mostly been cribbed from elsewhere – the mother-son relationship from The Babadook; a lonely plainswoman’s steady descent into madness from The Wind.

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