Amazon’s Spanish Horror Series The Boarding School: Las CombresA reboot of the early 2000 Spanish show of the same name takes place at a different Catholic boarding school for different teens, where the discipline of teachers is severe and students dream of running away. The ghastly stone building on a rock surrounded by a mound of dark woods, already creates a creepy Gothic atmosphere. (Nothing says that Gothic romance is like an ominous building that is impossible to leave.) And it is without the mysterious figure in the plague mask who kidnaps a student at the end of the first episode.
But while the authoritarian boarding school, whispers about the cult, plague doctors in creepy masks, and gruesome discoveries did a great job of maintaining a tense, cramped atmosphere, the show eventually uncovers plenty of characters and additional plot points that Push the focus away from what makes it compelling.
[Ed. note: This review contains slight spoilers for The Boarding School: Las Cumbres.]
In the first episode, the charismatic Manuel (Carlos Alcide), his rebellious girlfriend Amaya (Asia Ortego), his more gentle-minded friend Paul (Albert Salzar), and Paul’s responsible and expected sister Silé (Daniela Rubio) plot to escape from prison. She creates. -Like school. But Adele escapes with an escape attempt at the last minute and Paul goes with her, running Amaya and Manuel into the woods, close to freedom in hand. After Manuel trips and falls, that dreaded plague doctor swoops in and takes his lame body to the distant forest, while Amaya looks on in horror.
It is incredibly foreshadowing, but the sequel emphasizes the results, which place too much emphasis on a highly punitive school and not enough on a frightening situation. The uneven distribution of boarding-school drama and horror elements underpins any sense of driving plot. Strict punishment of school staff – throwing students into internment rooms such as dungeons for overnight or shaving students’ heads caught with phones – works well, initially, to create tension. After a certain point of back-talking students start to flutter in an overblown manner, however, the point is clear. The cycle of teenage rebellion, being caught by hardened teachers, and thrown into brutal punishment, detracting from hypnotic elements. It doesn’t help that the show has just so many characters, and not all of them are acting with the same stakes.
The horror and suspense of the series is intriguing, though it appears better in some characters than others. For example, Innes (Claudia Riera), a student of Amnesic, draws dark, cryptic pictures in her sketchbook and wanders out of her peripheral vision looking at shadows and figures. But the monk Elias (Alberto Amarilla) and the science teacher Elvira (Mina El Hamamani), who are compassionate for having a high degree of ease on students – and making horny eyes at each other – seem out of place. Paul and Amaya, meanwhile, want to find out more about Manuel’s mysterious disappearance. Certainly his futile attempts to make contact with the outside world are frustrated, but then Amaya throws a crazy party in a cellar filled with alcohol, hookups, and only a little exploration of the creepy dark cry. Of course, there may be a murder cult on the loose, but let’s have a threesome in a bathroom stall, why not?
The series has all the elements of an intriguing horror mystery. but The Boarding School: Las Combres Is plagued by its inequality (ha). At its best, the totalitarian boarding school adds to the tension. There is an understanding that adults know more than they can tell about something darker that lives within the stone walls of a school. But when the focus shifts to relationship drama, sex, and bullying, and stresses more about the same deviant teacher behavior, the intimidating factor becomes neutered, making her more afraid such as instead of a chilling horror series This bothers the teenager.
The Boarding School: Las Combres is Streaming on amazon.