‘The Birthday’: Eugenio Mira’s mysterious debut remains a cult masterpiece

interiors created by Daniel Izar de la Fuente

More than fifteen years ago, a young national filmmaker jumped into the feature film with a strange, extreme and extraordinary film. Eugenio Mira achieved what very few filmmakers achieve: a true cult film not easy to find today. And over time, ‘The Birthday’ looks brighter.

That cult is such that it is no longer that it is really difficult to find a copy of the film to take to the player, it also does not seem to be available by the least legal methods. If we also add that it was barely seen by 43,639 privileged spectators in movie theaters, we can affirm that we are facing one of the great strangers of our cinema. In some way, and saving all the distances we have had and still have, we are talking about the ‘Rapture’ of our generation.

Famous footage of Eugenio Mira’s 

In its original montage, the footage of Eugenio Mira’s film reached 117 real minutes, encompassing the amazing journey of its protagonist, Norman Forrester (sensational Corey Feldman), through the strange corridors of the hotel that runs the birthday celebration of his potential father-in-law, a successful old man named Ron Fulton and who is played by the great Jack Taylor, an indispensable figure in Mira’s cinema. For its definitive premiere (some of us were lucky enough to see that montage during its presentation) the film was cut in about twenty minutes, somehow breaking that “direct” feeling it had in its origins.

But really none of that matters. Although time has erased those lost minutes, his absolute devotion to the fantasy genre, almost from the most traditional slapstick, makes the film not only not forget, but also improves over the years. ‘The Birthday’ is an element as important as it is forgotten in our cinema. And it is about time that someone is encouraged to get it back.

The hotel of trouble

With a beautiful plane in the dark, where the only thing that lights up the screen is the hotel elevator, this odyssey begins, specialized in astonishing and shocking the most seasoned spectator. Over the years, through experience as movie goers, Mira’s film goes from ‘an episode of Twilight Zone’ or an exercise to David Lynch to mature as the most perfectly ordered tailor’s drawer that has ever given our cinema. Thus, at a certain moment and clearly marked as a point of no return and definitive turn, ‘The Birthday’ is something else, it is everything.

While filmmakers such as Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna or José Luis Alemán bet on putting all the meat on the grill from the first minute, always taking the Lovecraft universe as a starting point and with it between eyebrows, other types of achievements have been nurtured of its essence to achieve a completely different personality. Now I can think of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead or Eugenio Mira of this total birthday.

Completely shot in the interiors created by Daniel Izar de la Fuente and the indispensable production designer Javier Alvariño, ‘The Birthday’ bets everything on the organic rhythm that Mira gives to all his works. And it is that his cinema is in the antipodes of the modern filmmakers, more pending of the cut in the montage and little given to the long sequence, in constant movement, that the director began to shape in his impressive debut. All this with the invaluable collaboration of Unax Mendia, one of our directors of photography more to take into account.

Full of findings, so far ahead of its time as to continue to be modern, fresh and groundbreaking, ‘The Birthday’ is a must for every lover of pedigree fantasy. Science fiction of the rare, which is uncomfortable because it is not worn, excessive, loading, almost annoying and with an ending that gives meaning to the sound setting in the cinema full film of unforgettable shots at the height of the best genre of 30 years ago. And the latter without intending it beyond, perhaps, the participation of one of the faces that best define the happiest days of our lives. A rare bug that deserves to be constantly reviewed and has mutated into a beautiful endangered species. As its director.

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