Based on its plot synopsis alone, La Migala (the Bird Spider) is a short that will make you stop and take notice. I mean, c’mon! A giant poisonous spider used as a coping mechanism to get over the loss of a loved one? Consider this humble short lover sold.
Yet, the genius of director Jaime Dezcallar’s festival darling is that it takes an ostensibly ridiculous premise and turns it into something that feels tangible and real. Quickly you buy into the high concept. After all, what better way to eradicate the feelings of loss then by replacing them with ones of fear? One painful emotion cancels out the other. Every day suddenly becomes a matter of literal life and death. The resulting film is simultaneously emotional and suspenseful—a horror/drama hybrid that depicts the battle between a man’s internal depression and the much more tangible danger of a roaming, deadly spider. The symbolism may be obvious, but as this is a short, it’s quite effective. Moreover, since the film essentially takes place entirely in the lead character’s apartment, La Migala does an excellent job of capturing all of its emotion and tension in a single place.
Aesthetically, the visuals are sharp—warm lighting streams into the protagonist’s claustrophobic flat turned terrarium, painting everything with a golden glow. On the narrative side, Dezca accomplishes some interesting feats. By playing a bit with time, structure, and expectation, the film contains a surprising amount of twists and turns. While this certainly isn’t a Shyamalan-esque “twist” film by any stretch, a few choice reveals which shan’t be spoiled here give the entire piece an unexpected narrative complexity.
Based on a short story by Mexican magical realism author Juan José Arreola, the film was shot on a RED Epic in Madrid City over the course of the sweltering month of July. Dezcallar’s biography is quite an interesting one. Born in Madrid, he moved to Morocco when he was a teenager. He returned to Spain where he studied law and then subsequently worked in the Spanish television industry. He then moved to New York where he studied filmmaking at the NYFA, and then, finally returned back home to Madrid where he now works as a writer and director. La Migala played several festivals on the circuit and is just now finding its way online. To keep up with all of Jaime Dezcallar’s work, be sure to visit his website.