Every parents worst nightmare would be to go on holiday with their child, only to lose sight of them for a few vital moments and to find that their child has vanished. That is what happens to single mother Maria, travelling to the island of Hierro by ferry with her young son Diego, she goes to sleep and when she wakes up Diego has gone.
Despite a frantic on board search, followed by a more reasoned police search covering the island and the surrounding seas, Diego is not found dead or alive. Months later, and a body is found matching the description of Diego. Maria returns to Hierro to identify the body, but it is of another child. Maria then begins to carry out her own investigations on the secretive island, convinced that Diego is still alive and has been abducted...
Hierro has such a stately, and at times surreal atmosphere that it might well put viewers off who are in search of more instant gratification. I would advise to stick with it to the end, as 'Hierro' does deliver a payoff, albeit a very sombre and heartbreaking one.
I think part of the problem, is that 'Hierro' is being marketed as a horror-thriller. This is probably to entice fans of more bona fide Spanish horror such as Rec and The Nameless. It could be argued that 'Hierro' does contain elements of a ghost story, but it is more a meditation on grief and coping with a terrible loss. That doesn't make the film redundant, I'm just questioning the marketing ploy of the distributors.
I found it quite a beautiful film to look at, stunning cinematography, and there is an excellent performance from Elena Anaya as the haunted Maria. Why I could only award it four stars in the end, is that the end product doesn't quite deliver all that it promises earlier on. Please don't laugh, but this film reminded me slightly of British curio 'Neither The Sea Nor The Sand'.
I wouldn't recommend whipping this film out at a jam packed film fest, this is more one to enjoy alone or in the company of an understanding loved one. A decent psychological thriller anyway. 4 out of 5.