In his films, director Amenabar seems more interested in that which is not seen, rather than that which is seen. In the hands of another director, this film would’ve been garish, blood-filled and disturbing. Under Amenabar, Tesis is subtle, restrained and still very disturbing.
This interesting little horror/mystery asks some heavy questions about the industry of cinema and the public’s appetite for violence. Just how violent is too violent? Is there a line that cinema shouldn’t cross? Cleverly avoiding issues of hypocrisy, the film largely leaves the on-screen violence to a minimum, showing instead brief and disturbing flashes. Though the film knows the viewer is dying to see the violence, Amenabar won’t compromise. If only more filmmakers had his convictions.
The visual style of the film is quite interesting, with many clever POV techniques and genuinely creepy use of light and shadows. It’s no surprise Amenabar went on to direct The Others with Nicole Kidman; he definitely has an eye for sharp visuals.
Though the film never ventures too far into deep social analysis, Tesis does raise some interesting questions about the horror genre (though not in a smug, ‘we’re so clever’ way) and that alone makes it a welcome change from mainstream Hollywood horror films.