Directed by: Amy Hesketh
This, the second movie helmed by Amy, is derived from a centuries-old tale of a man (Bluebeard) who wed and then murdered several wives (successively, not all at once). The movie updates the narrative to modern times and gives the central character the name Barbazul (Barb = beard, azul = blue).
Soledad (Mila Delicia Joya) is our portal to the story. She meets Barbazul (Jac Avila) while working as an assistant to a fashion photographer who verbally abuses his staff. (On one occasion, the photographer is displeased with Mila and calls her a “nappy-haired cunt.” Yikes.)
Barbazul rarely appears without his black scarf
Barbazul is attentive to Soledad, treating her to dinner and learning about her background, including the fact that she is without parents and working to support her younger sister Ana, who is a student at the university. Mila plays Soledad as shy, quiet and fidgety (a lot like a girl I dated back in college), but once she gets in the sack with Jac, she’s hotter than picante de pollo.
Barbazul proposes marriage to Soledad, and she agrees. They inform Ana that they are engaged and that Soledad will be moving away to Barbazul’s mountain estate in the countryside, but that Ana’s needs will be addressed and she can visit Soledad whenever she likes. Ana replies, quite bluntly, “You are buying her. Do what you want.” Hmm.
So off they go, up the long and winding road to Barbazul’s aerie in the faraway hills. What a spread. Huge hacienda, loyal but furtive butler Walter (Roberto Lopez) to take care of all their needs, and all Soledad has to do is eat, sleep and fuck her fiancé.
One day, Barbazul informs Soledad that he is going away, to the big city, to take care of some business. Soledad wants to join him, but he says she cannot. However, he announces that he will be bringing back her sister for a visit. He gives her a shitload of keys on a ring and tells her she has the run of the house, but she must not use the one key that allows access to a particular room whose purpose he does not explain. Geez, that’s like tying your dog’s leash to a tree and then throwing a Frisbee that he can't chase.
It’s no surprise that Soledad gives in to curiosity and explores the forbidden room. She finds a small journal, and upon reading it, learns that Barbazul had several fiancés before her, all of whom were brought to the same estate and were murdered by him. The story is then told in flashback.
First, Barbazul is seen observing a photoshoot with Annabel (Veronca Paintoux), a model who is starting to feel she is nearing the end of her career. When Barbazul courts her and then proposes marriage, she readily agrees.
At first, I thought these two crazy kids were going to make it work
He takes her to his mansion, but soon their relationship sours. After she announces that she wants to go back to the city, perhaps to teach modeling, he decides he would rather kill her than lose her. He strangles her on the bed, using a long black scarf that she had given him. Jac shows some real emotion here; but is his character feeling loss, remorse or self-pity? Probably more of the latter, because after killing her, he climbs on top of her naked body, spreads her legs, and boffs her. Didn't see that one coming.
Afterwards, Barbazul sits outside the bedroom in a morose state. Walter the butler sees him, investigates, and tells him, “I can help you with this.” From then on, Walter becomes an enabler for Barbazul’s murderous habit, helping dispose of the evidence. Barbazul removes the engagement ring from Annabel’s finger and saves it for his next lover.
At a lounge, Barbazul meets Maga, a sultry blues singer whom he likewise brings to his hideaway. But Maga longs to get back to her band and her singing. When she announces that she is going to a concert without talking to Barbazul first, he stabs her in the abdomen. She stumbles out to the balcony, bleeding profusely, until Barbazul unwraps his scarf and finishes her off. Walter again arrives to clean up the mess.
Then Barbazul encounters Agatha at an art gallery and brings her to live with him. At the hacienda, things are going well until Agatha suggests to Barbazul that once they are married, there will be no more need for Walter. Uh-oh.
That night, when Barbazul ties her to the bed, she is initially intrigued, thinking that it’s part of a kinky game. But then he chokes her with the black scarf just like the others.
The final victim in the journal is “Jane” (Amy Hesketh), a writer of some renown whom Barbazul recognizes as she sits working on a park bench.
Barbazul meets Jane, professional writer and one "smoking" chick
At first they make a fortuitous match, because she likes being bound and whipped and he enjoys making it happen. They top off their BDSM session with sex. Amy is very seductive in this scene, and Jac knows just what to do. He doesn't even have to take his pants off.
"Harder," Amy coos as she's whipped. So far, this is consensual
One evening, Jane sits working outside when Barbazul approaches her, a bit irritated that he has had to search for her. "I have your toys," he says, and tells her to come to bed. Jane wants to finish scribbling in her notebook and tells him she'll be there "in another minute." He doesn't want to wait; over her protests, he pulls her to her feet, ties her wrists to an overhanging tree, and yanks her clothing down. She complains, but then realizes this is no regular bondage session as Barbazul repeated whips her ass roughly. The whip curls around her body and hits her in the front. She cries, "Stop! What are you doing?" but he only stops to put his black scarf to work. Jane utters gagging noises as the blood pools in her head, making her face red.
Thinking she is dead, Walter wraps Jane in a large plastic sheet and prepares to bury her. As he and Barbazul shovel dirt on top of her, a close-up of Jane’s face reveals that she is still breathing. Too late.
Finishing the journal, Soledad remembers that Barbazul is returning with her sister Ana. When the two arrive, Soledad wants to warn Ana that they are in danger. But Barbazul insists that they sit down to dinner immediately.
At the dinner table, Barbazul senses from Soledad’s silence that she disobeyed him and entered the locked room. After confronting her, he rises from the table, positions himself behind her, and prepares to use his deadly scarf. Then, something unexpected occurs: Ana also moves toward Soledad, and helps Barbazul’s efforts by tying Soledad’s wrists to the chair. Soledad is then bagged as well as choked, and we watch the bag inflate and deflate with Soledad’s last respirations.
Ana removes from Soledad's dead hand the engagement ring that has passed to and from the fingers of Barbazul past fiancés. She places on her own finger.
But Amy’s film does not end until she has delivered one more twist in the tale, which I will not divulge.
As a movie Barbazul has a lot going for it: appropriate casting, performances that range from good to excellent, beautiful scenery and cinematography, plot twists and a musical score that is both ominous and infectious. It’s a subtly detailed, multi-layered film that reveals more with each viewing. Amy put a lot of thought into this.
GIMPwise, it has five attractive victims who all die via strangulation by the same black scarf; however, there is a slight variation to each murder. Annabel is fucked afterwards; Maga is stabbed first; Agatha is tied to the bed (topless), Jane is tied AOH to a tree, stripped, whipped , strangled and then buried alive; finally, Soledad is strangled and bagged while tied to a chair. Of the five scenes, the torture and death of Jane is my favorite. No surprise there, because Amy’s experience ensures the delivery of good GIMPage with a fine payoff. And damn, she looks as hot in this movie as I have ever seen her.
As a villain, Jac displays some emotion during and after the first murder; thereafter, killing becomes something he does more coldly and routinely. It’s as if getting away with the first murder gave him license to do more. His motivation is not spelled out, but it becomes clear that he has serious issues with women who think and act independently.
I'd not seen Veronica Paintoux before this, but I was very impressed with the credibility of her performance. Veronica is slender, with an elegant look and feline quality about her. She fit the role of a mature, successful model perfectly, and her interactions with Jac hit all the right notes. Her GIMP scene was also well-done. I hope we get to see more of her in future productions.
Maleficarum was built on a story that provided an opportunity for virtually non-stop torture of naked women. By contrast, Barbazul focuses more on the storytelling and the GIMPage is more episodic, although fatal in every instance. It’s possible that you may even be able to watch this one in the company of one or more very open-minded acquaintances.