Review: Rudy Riveron Sanchez’s “Is That You?”

It screened around the world and picked up several awards, and now Is That You? is available to own on DVD and VOD courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures. Shot by Eres Tu Papa Productions in association with Lipsync, this Cuban feature film was a wild ride that I don’t quite know how to define, but I’ll get to that later. Written and directed by Rudy Riveron Sanchez, Is That You? finds a young girl, Lili, and her mother living in the countryside while trapped in the confines of their shack by their tormenting, domineering father. One day he disappears, setting off a chain of events that leads Lili to a spiritualist who imbues her with the knowledge of an ancient ritual that can help bring him back. As expected, the consequences of the spell bring damaging and demented effects to the struggling family. Gabriela Ramos, Osvaldo Doimeadios, Lynn Cruz, Jorge Enrique Caballero and Eslinda Nunez star in Is That You?; from producer Emma Berkofsky and executive producers Marina Barabanova, Rebecca Randell, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry and Sean O’Shea. OK, here’s my thoughts.

Is That You? started off fairly promising, along with creepy humming and a disgusting foot fetish scene. From the get go, you get the picture that the women in this household are oppressed and angry, and plotting something gruesome. To make matters worse, the father in this picture is genuinely unnerving. I watched the majority of his scenes waiting for him to assault the women, whether it be physically or sexually, because his portrayal was just so uncomfortable to watch. All of the actors turned in awesome performances here, and they really must have dug deep to go to a dark place while bringing these characters to life. When the father goes missing, I was happy to see the story focus more on Lili and her mother, and I expected the story to transition to a more Pet Sematary in Cuba type direction. It didn’t go there, however, and the story almost creeps to a stand-still and failed to keep my interest. With a low backing score or scenes that were so quiet, Is That You? became somewhat of a snoozer despite the promise of being something better. Once the supernatural element kicked in, well, that didn’t really help the situation either. It was still mostly a plain experience.

The spell to bring the father back is inherently supernatural and sets the standard for the suspense to set it. Only it’s carried out in the most unassuming way that it loses its effectiveness. And besides a couple murders, there’s not much bloodshed in this movie. For that reason, I struggle to even classify Is That You? as a horror flick. It’s definitely more of a psychological thriller or dark drama or a combination of both subgenres. The only problem with this is that it’s going to be misrepresented to the horror viewers out there. Even with expert cinematography by Raul Perez Ureta and editing by Rudy Riveron Sanchez and Aurora Vegeli, there’s not enough bite here to keep that target audience satisfied. While Is That You? is gritty, harrowing and uncomfortable, it’s far from scary; but I’m not sure it was it was ever created to fill that void. So, again, I don’t know if I was the write man to review this flick. I can appreciate the artistry involved with crafting this piece of cinema yet I was waiting for more of an adrenaline rush or truly nightmare inducing moment.

Is That You? is filmed exquisitely and has an expert cast, but its story is slow-paced and repetitive. Although it does contain a killer ending that I was not expecting! Is That You? was a decent movie, but far from a horror flick. Final Score: 6 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)