Netflix horror film The Influence has potential and performances that can be respected, but it plods the story along rather than producing any impact.
The Influence / La influencia was released on Netflix on Oct 11, 2019.
It wouldn’t be a Netflix Friday without a decent-sized budget foreign horror to appease the community. The Influence is a few performances away from becoming an intriguing modern-day horror film, wedged in the Netflix thumbnails. Netflix is gagging for genuinely decent stories to capture this loyal genre community, but so far, I’m not wholly convinced that the platform has managed to assert itself as a place for horror fans.
One aspect that I do enjoy about Netflix film The Influence is its play on a broken family. Horrors that rely on family as the commonality between the characters and the reason for their downfall is always an intriguing base to a feature. The Influence introduces us to Alicia, a nurse who ventures out to her little town of Duesos, to help her sister Sara look after their mother, Victoria. Their mother is in a coma at the top of the house, up steep staircases and narrow corridors.
While you pre-empt the horror elements, Manuela Vellés does a superb job in eking out her character Alicia. It’s easy to spot from the first few scenes that dragging her family back to her hometown, with an unemployed husband and her young daughter Nora, felt like a half-hearted sacrifice rather than a generous contribution. The Influence shadows the characters with their family history. The relationships with their dying mother are abundantly clear — and the horror that follows is transparently linked to Victoria.
Its play on witch-like elements is unscary, yet patient. The Influence relies on Victoria’s life support machine to set the atmosphere — one breath in, one breath out — to up the tension. As the film progresses, plenty is revealed about their hard childhood and their troubled, abusive mother.
The Influence has a knack of plodding the story along rather than striving to reach the impactful moments, which is a shame because there are notably good performances in this Netflix horror feature that are appreciated. The horror allows the house to breathe and become a character, while the mother Victoria patiently exists on her death bed, as an extension to the problems that occur.
Netflix horror film The Influence is not a write-off in any sense of the imagination, and despite attaching a lower score overall, there are elements to respect in Denis Rovira van Boekholt‘s work.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.