A Candle for the Devil is about a life unfulfilled. It is the story of a woman left bitter and cold after being left at the altar many years before, her life now comprised of nothing but her sister and her faith as her companions. Years of anger and disappointment are hard to quench though and for Marta, the only thing that can fill it is the killing of young women.
Directed by Eugenio Martín, he begins the movie with a murder, one that seems to be committed by two sexually frustrated, middle-aged women. It soon becomes apparent that it is only Marta, the one sister who is the driving force behind it all with Verónica, helpless and unable to stop her sibling from committing the atrocious acts. Where at the beginning Verónica looks to be on board with it and is an active participant, it is interesting to see her pull farther and farther away from Marta, almost becoming a victim herself.
Intriguing to note is the fact that each of the murdered women is young and beautiful; each one killed for a different, yet ultimately similar reason. Quite easy to see is the fact that Marta is killing her younger self – the woman she was or the woman she could have been and as each murder occurs, they get a little more vicious and a little crueler. Martin paints it all with a certain eroticism, trying to evoke a feeling of lust with the blood and the sweat and the skin, yet combining it with a revulsion for the women as well. Marta is strangely attractive in her zeal, but disgusting too as you know there is a madness in her. By the end of the film, whatever feelings the viewer might have had for Marta or even for Verónica are transformed into pity. Letting one incident rule one’s life, to be trapped by it and to let it enslave you, is no way to live.
Though some might argue that Judy Geeson who portrays Laura is the star of the show, not every film has to have a protagonist at its heart. There is that rare occasion where the villain is front and center and Aurora Bautista fills the role better than anyone else could have. As Marta, she is truly one dastardly woman, playing the part to perfection and a villain that you love to hate. Verónica is characterized by Esperanza Roy, the one woman who has the power to stop everything from happening, but fails to do so, is either unwilling or not wanting to anger her sister or cause her any further harm.
One thing that is absolute about A Candle for the Devil is that it never fails to keep one’s attention. Just when you think you might know where it is going, Martin pulls out another surprise to shock the viewer even further. From start to finish, a fascinating movie with an ending that keeps the you on the edge of your seat.
4 out of 5