The Nameless (Los Sin Nombre)
directed by Jaume Balaguero
(Dimension, 1999)

It was only as the opening credits of this film rolled that I realized the story was based on a novel by Ramsey Campbell -- one I had read a few years ago. The only thing I clearly remember about the novel is the horrible ending, which I described as a betrayal of the evil Campbell had spent so much time creating. This movie, on the other hand, does things absolutely right in my book, creating a bold, shocking ending that made me want to stand up and cheer -- not for what actually happened, but because the filmmaker ended the film in such heroic fashion -- American filmmakers always seem to cowardly sell out at the end of films.

The Nameless is in fact a Spanish production (Los Sin Nombre), directed by Jaume Balaguero, the same man behind the film Darkness. The film is dubbed in English, but I have no complaints about the dubbing whatsoever.

I love European horror. There is a completely different mood and feel compared to American horror films, which at this point basically consist of the same few movies made over and over again. Watching unknown actors, I had no predilections as to where the story would take their characters.

The story begins with the horrible mutilation and murder of a little girl, likely the work of some cult or other. Then, several years later, the child's mother Claudia (and I must say Emma Vilarasau gives a wonderfully distraught performance as the traumatized mother) receives a phone call from her daughter, begging her to come get her. She goes alone to the location, braves the absolute creepiness of the place and finds enough evidence to make her think her daughter may actually still be alive. She begs for the help of the cop (now former cop) who worked the case, and the two of them begin a search for what turns out to be a mysterious cult known only as The Nameless. It apparently has links back to the old Thule Society of fascist Germany, with a really weird Crowley-like guru (now incarcerated) holding the key to what his nameless children are up to these days.

Carlos Lasarte is deliciously evil in the role of the madman Santini; he almost steals the whole show with his one scene. With the help of a paranormal magazine writer, Claudia and her partner finally draw a bead on the location of the cult -- but suddenly it's not so clear just who is the hunter and who is the hunted here. I would love to talk about the ending because it's just fantastic, but you really have to witness it for yourself.

Maybe this movie doesn't translate all that well to the general American public. I, for one, thought this film was fantastic, and it certainly won a slew of awards in Europe. Ramsey Campbell's horror is of a somewhat erudite form, but Jaume Balaguero managed to take Campbell's story and bring it to vivid, haunting life in the most effective of ways. Best of all, he cast away the novel's disappointing ending and fully embraced the horror that fueled the entire story. I love The Nameless, and I hope those who come across it will give it a chance -- it's really a terrific horror movie.

by Daniel Jolley
31 December 2005

Buy it from