Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
A number of people have recommended Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil to me over the past few years, but for some reason I kept skipping past it when looking for something to watch on Netflix. While I do love a good, dark fairy tale, it just became something of a blind spot. Happily, this year’s October Horror Movie Challenge finally gave me good reason to rectify that.
Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil is currently available on Netflix in the UK.
Faced with a firing squad, Patxi, a rebel fighter in the First Carlist War, calls upon a demon to help him escape. Now, years later, Patxi, has returned to being a blacksmith in his small Basque community. Dogged by rumours that he is a murderer, however, Patxi is shunned by the locals, and he isolates himself from them in turn.
This stalemate is broken by two very different intruders into Patxi’s insular world. A government inspector named Ortiz comes to town, looking for the gold Patxi apparently looted during the war. And Usue, a young orphan girl, breaks into the blacksmith’s fortress, after bullies throw her doll over the gate.
When Usue discovers the demon Patxi has kept prisoner all these years, the blacksmith’s isolation starts falling apart. Now, Patxi must deal with angry villagers, the government inspector, and the forces of Hell itself.
This the second year in a row I’ve reviewed a Basque horror film involving the Carlist Wars, following last year’s All the Moons. I’m not promising this will become an annual feature, but I’m not ruling it out either.
While I suspect Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil had a modest budget, the creature effects are spectacular. We meet a number of demons throughout the film, and there is real variety in their presentation. Some of the other special effects are less impressive, but never jarringly so. Given the ambition of the film, especially in its last act, it rarely fails to deliver.
Although Last Night in Soho offers stiff competition, Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil must be the most beautiful-looking horror film I’ve seen this year. While I’m sure it’s not hard to make the Basque countryside look lovely, even the scenes that take place in the disused smithy and in Hell are so visually sumptuous that they’d be enough to carry the film.
Happily, Errementari has a lot more to offer than superficial gloss. This is a simple but powerful folk tale, brought to charming life. For a film crawling with demons, it’s a surprisingly uplifting story, and I found myself grinning like a loon by the end.
This is one of those rare films I struggle to find any fault with. While I don’t think Errementari will be my pick of the month, it’s just refreshing to see a film with no rough edges or missteps. Ultimately, it may not have the complexity or emotional depth to become an enduring favourite of mine, but that doesn’t mean the film fails in any respect. It succeeds entirely in what it sets out to do.
So while I doubt Errementari will be the most frightening film you’ll see this Halloween season, it has enough spooky appeal to warrant a place on your viewing list. Definitely a good palate cleanser between darker or more harrowing fare.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- Dark August (USA, 1976)
- Huesera: The Bone Woman (Mexico/Peru, 2022)
- The Banishing (UK, 2020)
- Brooklyn 45 (USA, 2023)
- Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (Japan, 1995)
- Pyewacket (Canada, 2017)
- Grave Robbers (Mexico, 1989)
- You Might Be The Killer (USA, 2018)
- No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
- The Sect (Italy, 1991)
- Last Night in Soho (UK, 2021)
- Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
- 47 Metres Down (UK/USA, 2017)
- The Oskars Fantasy (Philippines, 2022)
- In the Earth (UK, 2021)
- Something in the Dirt (USA, 2022)
- Blood Flower (Malaysia, 2023)
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (Canada, 1987)
- Older Gods (UK, 2023)
- Come to Daddy (New Zealand, 2020)
- Shrew’s Nest (Spain, 2014)
- Totally Killer (USA, 2023)
- The Premonition (USA, 1976)
- Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
- The Gruesome Twosome (USA, 1967)
- Talk to Me (Australia, 2023)
- Gaia (South Africa, 2021)
- Demon (Poland, 2015)
- Juju Stories (Nigeria, 2022)
- El Conde (Chile, 2023)
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hong Kong/UK, 1974)
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Night House
- The Changeling
- The Endless
- Our favourite Cthulhu Mythos media
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!