Covadonga (2017) (horror movie review).

January 17, 2019 | By | Reply More

I both love and hate films like this. There is so much to like about ‘Covadonga’ that normally I would be raving about it but there’s just one little thorn that’s pricked me. Before delving deeper let’s set the context. ‘Covadonga’ is billed as ‘an Irish Gothic folk horror freakout’ according to the material accompanying the film. I think this is stretching things a bit far.

‘Covadonga’ is Hartofilis’s second film. The first film, ‘Beach Pillows’, starring Geoffrey Arend, Vincent Kartheiser, Annette O’Toole and Richard Schiff, won Amsterdam Film Festival’s Van Gogh World Cinema Screenwriting Award. It was released in 2014.

Can Hartofilis repeat the success of his first film? Well, ‘Covadonga’ has quite rightly won lots of awards (Best Film, Best Narrative, Best Score, Best Actor and Best Director) at the various film festivals. It is a high-quality item and the bigger studios should take note given ‘Covadonga’s modest budget.

Covadonga (horror movie review).

Covadonga (horror movie review).

It is set in the USA and in modern times, so the Irish Gothic angle is a bit questionable. I wouldn’t call it a ‘horror freakout’ neither, as there is very little blood and gore. What ‘Covadonga’ does and does very well, is manage the tension. You just know something’s going to happen. Something must happen and, of course, it does. It just might not be what you were expecting. There’s a ghost as well.

The setting for the film is a very large and very nice house set in woodland on the edge of a beautiful lake, actually Lake Wallenpaupack in Lakeville, PA. The lone inhabitant of the house is a Mr. Martin Ravin played by Sean Hartofilis. He is a young widow who’s still grieving for his wife, Maggie Ravin. We find out later she was killed at some type of school atrocity. Martin deals with the grieving by playing the guitar, singing and swimming.

Martin is sat with his guitar on the veranda of his house one evening just contemplating things when a young couple have the nerve not only to trespass on his property but to take his boat from its mooring on the small jetty and disappear into the evening. At first, Martin is outraged, but then relents thinking it’s just young people enjoying themselves and why shouldn’t they?

Things take a darker turn when later that evening (it’s now dark), Martin sees the young lad come back on his own. The lad seems very nervous, almost distressed about something. Martin decides the lad is up to no good and is concerned about the welfare of the young lady. Martin leaps into action to apprehend the lad using somewhat unorthodox means.

Having captured the lad, Martin really goes off on a tangent and this is the bit of the film which infuriates me. Now, logically, having captured the lad, Martin has two options: 1. phone the police & 2. get the lad to tell him what happened. In fact, he could have done both but instead does neither. The point that irks me so much is that I don’t know why he chose the path he did.

There is one scene where Martin launches into a long whimsical monologue and the rationale for his thinking might have been hidden in there, but I couldn’t pick it out on the first viewing. It might be a failing on my part rather than the films and only a second or third viewing will confirm one or the other.

Will I watch it again? Yes, I will. While the film only had a budget of $40,000 and a shooting schedule of 10 days, it is extremely well done. Sean Hartofilis is a very talented actor and takes the character of Martin Ravin from a sad young bloke to something really quite frightening. His singing and guitar playing are pretty good, too. He’s the director of the film and he can also swim better than me. I’m beginning to dislike him.

With such a small budget and tight shooting schedule the cast is limited to just five actors:

Martin Ravin: Sean Hartofilis.
Maggie Ravin: Lindsey Dumont.
The Boy: Matt Montemaro.
The Girl: Phoenix Gonzalez.
Detective Elias: George Hartofilis.

You will have to pay attention as some of the appearances of Maggie Ravin are very fleeting. Just in case you were wondering, Detective Elias is played by Sean Hartofilis’s dad.

‘Covadonga’ is well worth watching. If you buy the film for $7 and email the receipt back to the email address on the ‘Covadonga’ web site, you get the full soundtrack (7 songs) to download for free.

Available from by Walls Farm Pictures.

Andy Whitaker

January 2019



Category: Films, Horror, MEDIA

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About AndyWhitaker

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties.

My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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