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H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (aka H6: Diario de un asesino) DVD Review

Written by Steve Pattee

DVD released by Tartan Films

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Does your family know you're here? – Antonio Frau

Written and directed by Martín Garrido Barón
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on November 21st, 2006

Fernando Acaso as Antonio Frau
María José Bausá as Francisca
Raquel Arenas as Rosa
Xènia Reguant as Marisa
Sonia Moreno as Tina
Ramón Del Pomar as Curro

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As a young buck, Antonio Frau had a problem controlling his rage. Things came to a head when, in a fit of anger, Antonio strangled his girlfriend to death.

Released from prison two and a half decades later, Antonio finds himself the new owner of an apartment building and the new husband of a beautiful woman.

The apartment building, which used to be a brothel, became his when his aunt died — it wasn't exactly willed to him, he just happened to be the last surviving relative.

The beautiful woman he met through a dating service — she doesn't exactly love him, he just happened to be the guy who can take her away from her parents.

With a new home and a new wife, Antonio does what every convicted murderer does when he gets another shot in the free world — he starts killing again.

If there's one thing Antonio learned in the pokey, it was to control his rage. Now, instead of going all nuts and strangling people who can be tied to him, he takes things slow, smart and methodical when he rapes, tortures and dismembers prostitutes who won't be missed.

Looks like Antonio spent his time learning new skills in prison.

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Back when Neon Maniac reviewed the screener for H6: Diary of a Serial Killer, I made a mental note to check it out. Boy, am I glad I did.

The beauty of H6 is that while, at its gut, it's a serial killer movie, it is not a typical serial killer movie. Instead of going for high body count and über-violence, H6 goes for subtlety. It's not about blood and guts and gore, it's about control. Antonio's every move, every action, every word is deliberate. It's almost surreal, because you keep waiting for him to snap, and lose it, but he never does. He is in complete control of each situation, and he never loses control of emotions. Control. Control. Control.

And director Martín Garrido Barón adds to that surreal feeling with his beautiful shots. H6 is a gorgeous movie. Not only are numerous types of shots used — long, wide, tight — but he also dips into to the color palette on occasion, for even more various looks; from stark, washed-out daytime shots to warm interior shots. Hell, after Antonio dismembers a victim, there's even a certain kind of beauty to the blood-splattered room. It's not often that a horror movie looks as good as the story is.

Yet, as surreal as it is at times, you are snapped back to reality by the brutal rape scenes. And the actors deserve a lot of credit, because there is something so real about these scenes.

The women are already tied down on the table Antonio built for his "guests," so there's no actual striking of the women. Antonio doesn't bother even pulling down his pants — or even the panties of his victims. There's not a lot of fighting. It just happens.

But, damn it, it's so real. Especially with the second victim. You can feel it happening, because she is making sure you do. I guess, in a sense, the rape scenes are surreal in their own way. You aren't seeing violence in the traditional sense, yet you are watching the most violent part of the movie.

Fernando Acaso's performance as Antonio is damn near perfect. Antonio is almost likeable, and his actions throughout the movie are methodical, never hurried. And while Acaso makes you want to like Antonio, he also makes sure you never root for him. He's not an anti-hero, he is someone you want to see put away for life. That's what makes the film so disturbing, because you know Antonio is one sick man, but, at the same time, you almost want to befriend the guy. Because when he's not hacking people up, he seems to be good company.

H6 is one of those movies that stays with you after you have watched it — the more you think about it, the more you are disturbed about it.

And that's what makes it so damn good.

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Video and Audio:

The movie's anamorphic presentation varies from pretty good to awesome. There are a few instances when the blacks are a little muddy and some scenes are a tad too dark, but there are many more moments of "wow, that looks great." Colors are natural and, at times, wonderfully busy. One particular scene has a shot of Antonio, wearing a dark patterned sweater, sitting on a patterned couch. The couch sits on a patterned rug and against a wall with patterned wallpaper. Then his wife walks in with her stark white nurse's uniform. And there's not a bit of color bleeding. Talk about standout.

Like most, if not all, Tartan releases, the DTS track is fantastic. The ambient noise is well represented, as all speakers are used creating a delightful atmosphere. The voices are crisp and are never taken over by the score or sound effects, unless intended. I wish the vocals were spread out a bit more, but Tartan delivers ambience like no other, so that makes up for it.

Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish) and English subtitles are available.

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Special Features:

  • Interview with Director Martín Garrido Barón
  • Interview with Actor Fernando Acaso
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Don't let those two interviews fool you. That particular feature is really one eight-minute clip with Acaso answering questions for about six of those eight minutes and Barón and Alejo Sauras — an actor who is one of Frau's victims — splitting the rest. It's not really mind blowing and can be skipped.

In addition to the trailer for H6, there are trailers for Cello, Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, AB Normal Beauty, Marebito and Spider Forest.

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Movie: 4.5 Stars
Video: 3.5 Stars
Audio: 4 Stars
Features: 2 Stars
Overall: 4.5 Stars

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H6: Diary of a Serial Killer is one of those rare serial killer movies that doesn't try to be exploitive, but instead goes for the thinking man's route, a la Se7en. To some viewers, it may appear to be over the top — especially with the rape and dissection scenes — but those scenes are just the surface of something deeper.

This one is definitely worth a purchase.

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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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