Fausto 5.0 (2001)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Spain   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

The venerable Faust story gets the contemporary treatment in this variation, which might be subtitled "The Ex-Patient From Hell." Fausto (Miguel Ángel Solá) is a distracted and suicidal physician, though the causes of his depression are left vague. The filmmakers (it's credited to three directors) do create an urban world of ambient sound and flashing imagery that encourages us to identify with the doctor's sense of dislocation. (One nice touch is that the hotel where a medical convention is being held is swathed in gauzy curtains, as though it were being quarantined.) When Fausto meets Santos (Eduard Fernández), a Mephistophelean character replete with greasy hair, a goatee, and garish leisure wear, the good doc is understandably put off, even when the man claims to be a former patient who survived a bout with stomach cancer. Once he accepts the sexual favors of a hotel room visitor sent by Santos, Fausto is lured into unloosing his inhibitions. The film makes his descent gradual and largely believable; he tries to maintain a façade of respectability at the conference he's attending, but there is something about the promise of unfettered pleasure that clearly appeals to the doctor. Having nearly robbed the doctor of his soul, Santos gives him a second shot at life, just as Fausto allegedly did for him. If the story's resolution strikes some as surprisingly upbeat, it's also oddly satisfying, given the almost literal hell Fausto is put through.