October 29, 2015

Import Review: Marshland (2015)

How to write this one up and do it the justice that it deserves...How about: "Marshland is what True Detective Season 2 should have been." That sounds like a pretty good start.

Marshland is a dark Buddy Cop movie that is reminiscent of other Crime Thrillers like Se7en, Zodiac, Memories of Murder, or The Silence, even though it's a different beast in many ways.

And it does feel like it would have made an excellent entry into the world of HBO's True Detective that would have been on par with the perfect 1st Season, in every single way.

It's 1980, five years after the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, and Spain is still celebrating. When two girls go missing during the small town of Guadalquivir Marshes' annual fair, two detectives from Madrid are called in to investigate. Pedro is a left-wing do-gooder, honest Cop who does things by the book; and Juan is an old school throwback to the corrupt Franco era, who does things his way, which usually involves something shady. Needless to say, the two don't really get along that well.

As they investigate the case of the missing girls though, they put their differences aside in an effort to find out who is behind their disappearances. When the girls are found dead, the detectives begin to uncover all kinds of seedy, perverse things about the small town, including, but not limited to: the murder, rape, pimping, and sexual slavery of young girls, all of which goes back years.

The local Police, still corrupt as hell, not only refuse to help the detectives with their case, but even try to hinder the investigation in an effort to protect some of the more affluent scumbags of the community. Juan is all for breaking people's heads open to find answers though, and it's not long before straight-arrow Pedro comes around to his way of thinking.

The intense hunt for a Serial Killer ensues.

Give us a movie about Cops on the trail of a Serial Killer, and we'll be happy campers. Give us one as fantastic as Marshland, and we'll be ecstatic. It's a bit unnatural how much we love these types of movies.

Much like other classic modern day Thrillers like Memories of Murder or The Silence, this Spanish gem came out of nowhere and took us by complete surprise. From the very start we knew we were in for something special, at least from a visual standpoint; the movie opens with some breathtaking overhead shots of the Spanish countryside that set a special mood for everything else to come. The biggest star of this movie may be its cinematography, which was flawless.

I guess it helps when a movie with such a disturbing plot looks like a piece of moving art.

The post-Franco era in Spain made for an interesting setting for this movie. Almost overnight, Spain went from fascism to democracy, and in the context of this movie, it's interesting to see how the authorities were still inclined to keep certain rich and important people safe from persecution, even when they may be responsible for young girls being pimped out and murdered.

*I'm no expert on Spanish government or Francisco Franco, but that's how it all looked to me while watching this movie.

As compelling as the story itself was, it's the acting in this one that took everything in this one to a higher level. With Marshland being a Spanish film, we weren't very familiar with the work of its two leads, Raúl Arévalo and Javier Gutiérrez. They were both excellent in their roles, with Gutiérrez's tough guy being the standout. As different as these characters were, they made for a perfect team, and we could have honestly watched another hour of them running around and solving mysteries together. And beating people up.

I guess we'll just have to settle for seeking out some of their other films, and enjoying those. 

Movies like Marshland don't come along all that often, so when they do, we're more than happy to sing their praises. Beautifully-shot, superbly-acted, and a story that kept us on the edge of our seats, it's hard not to call this movie perfect.

If this is what Spanish Cinema has to offer, then we want more.


Marshland is available now on Import Blu-ray. *You need a Region-Free Blu-ray player to watch this movie.


Here are some screenshots of the stunning overhead shots from the movie, which truly left us in awe. They truly do need to be seen in a larger scope to truly appreciate their beauty, but here they are anyhow.


  1. As a spaniard living abroad I'm somewhat out of touch regarding spanish cinema, but I heard great things about this movie as it won 10 Goyas (the spanish equivalent for the Oscars). I didn't even know it was this kind of thriller so I never brought myself to watch it. I'm a sucker for these kind of movies, and I always hold your opinions in high regards so I'm going to watch this movie as soon as possible!
    Some trivia: The spanish title is "La Isla Minima", it would translate as "Minimum Island".

    1. It's a really good movie, Liquid. Easily one of my personal favorites of the year. You won't be sorry!

    2. I too am Spaniard and I am delighted to find this film on this blog (and with so much praise). The truth is that this is the movie should have been selected to compete at the Oscar for best foreign film.

    3. Agreed, Daniel. I'm not sure why the Oscars always overlook such deserving foreign films, and this should have been nominated.

  2. OK, so not like I will put a list here, but what has been coming out of Spain lately has been fucking fantastic. from wacky horror feats like "Witching and Bitching"(Las brujas de Zugarramurdi), to grand scale apocolyptic movies like "The Last Days"(Los últimos días ), to smaller creeper ones like "The Uninvited Guest"(El habitante incierto), to sci fi comedies from Nacho Vigalondo like "Extraterrestrial" and "Time Crimes"(Time Crimes isnt really a comedy, but had moments) all of these Spanish movies from the last 10 years have been on par with the Hitchcocks and the Welles.
    Sorry, but as a Floridian, I can safety say that I am unbiased in this. I have no ties to any country, or Hollywood. I will watch any movie, old or new, subtitled or not.
    But Spanish movies lately have just been fucking stellar. IMHO/

    1. Spain has definitely been putting out some great movies lately, and for about the last decade or so. Hell, the good ones go all the way back to the 70's if you look at it, but lately they've been on a roll.

      Wtching and Bitching was all kinds of fun. Same with Blind Alley. Sleep Tight, [REC] 1 & 2, most movies involving Del Toro... and I could go on.

      Glad to see that people out there are appreciating thse great movies!

    2. LOL, this is going to sound totally dickish, but isn't Del Toro Mexican((Or is he Mexican't)lol, sorry, I just can't think of the word 'Mexican' anymore without saying that quote from Johnny Depp)

    3. Oh, and I think you might have revieved all of the titles that I had listed in my OP, but if you haven't seen 'El habitante incierto' (2004) you really need to find a copy, (psst, if I had an address, I could send you stuff on thumb drives, I have my ways of getting foreign stuff and making my own subs)

    4. Del Toro is Mexican, but some of his movies are Spanish/Mexican Co-productions.

      Dick :)

      One of our guys here has a ton of imports, let me see if he's got that one. Sounds interesting.

    5. 'Uninvited' is an original concept that I've never seen before. A must see


    Do you think his partner was involved? They call him the crow.