The Chalk Line: Decent but Frustrating Spanish Thriller

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Plot: A couple finds a little girl whose hidden trauma adds complications and danger to their lives.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Review: I know, I know another thriller from Spain. I’m on a roll here guys. What can I say? The good news is that it’s even better than you’d assume with a title that sounds so uninteresting. The Chalk Line (original title Jaula) follows the story of a traumatised little girl named Clara (Eva Tennear). She is discovered late one night walking along the white lines in the middle of the highway by a couple, Paula (Elena Anaya) and Simón (Pablo Molinero) on their way home. She is taken to the hospital and treated. While she can recover physically, her mental state remained unresponsive to hospital staff and psychologists. Because Clara seemed to respond positively towards Paula, it is agreed for her to be temporarily fostered by the couple until the authorities can find her parents. Clara is terrified of crossing drawn chalk lines and Paula proceeds to clear a living space to comfort her. Very soon Paula and Simón’s marriage troubles are exacerbated when a few sinister incidents point toward Clara being the culprit. However, Paula thinks that there is much more to be discovered behind Clara’s past than what meets the eye.

Have to mention the fact that I half expected this to just be another movie that depicted a child as being inherently evil or possessed. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that they threw that trope out the window. Instead, the plot builds upon the disturbed emotional state of the little girl being unable to express herself and is eventually misunderstood by her adult counterparts. The plot culminates eventually into the story about a sexual predator of underaged girls who finds himself in danger of being discovered by his neighbours and law enforcement.

Actress Elena Anaya, best known to American cinemagoers as Dr. Poison in Wonder Woman (2017), submitted a strong, yet frustrating performance as Paula. Paula is a woman in her early forties that has been a longtime sufferer of infertility. In the film, she is shown as secretly injecting herself with fertility treatments without her husband’s knowledge. However, when her husband discovers this, it causes some friction between them, adding to the issues that arose by fostering Clara. This helps to build up the instant emotional attachment created between Paula and Clara which turns into what can be misconstrued as obsession due to her many failed attempts to have a child of her own. Paula turns a bit antagonistic towards her neighbours after they confront her collectively about her behaviour regarding Clara. For me, this particular scene was not only frustrating but annoying to watch as her husband is shown to support this effort.

The big plot twist reveal is a tad clumsy because it almost feels like the film takes a completely different direction at this point, which can feel a bit disjointed to the audience. A few small issues with uneven story development and choppy pacing keep The Chalk Line from being as good as it can be. There was also a bit too much focus on creating the ominous atmosphere and not enough time spent on evolving the main characters leading up to the great climax of the film. While it successfully manages to sustain a fair bit of suspense and paranoia, the ending felt quite flat in execution and just way too neat.

To conclude, it’s still a good choice if you’re looking to satisfy that foreign thriller craving late at night. It’s currently available via streaming on Netflix. Dark Alice over and out.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

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Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More