Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Women and Haunted Houses in the Films of Jaume Balagueró: The Nightmares of Presence

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (6), 641–653.


Jaume Balagueró has developed a successful resumé of horror films that show a decided preference for the classic Gothic motif of the haunted house and the Gothic heroine who investigates its interior. This paper touches first on the Derridean concept of ‘dreams of presence’ (as theorized by cultural geographer Mitch Rose), in order to propose the ‘nightmares of presence’ in which the relationship, the call to care or commitment, between the subject and the space in which the subject dwells or moves, is Gothicized but nonetheless remains to tie the subject to the space concerned. It then focuses on Balagueró’s Los sin nombre, Frágiles/ Fragile and [REC] to consider three very different Gothic heroines: the mother of a dead daughter, a nurse in a children’s hospital, and a television reporter. The antagonistic call to care of the ‘nightmare of presence’ will be used to interrogate spatial aspects of the Gothic heroine.

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Darkness. 2002, dir. Jaume Balagueró (Castelao Producciones; Dimension Films; Fantastic Factory; Filmax; Via Digital). Google Scholar

Frágiles/ Fragile. 2005, dir. Jaume Balagueró (Castelao Producciones; Future Films; Just Films). Google Scholar

Mientras duermas/ Sleep Tight. 2011, dir. Jaume Balagueró (Castelao Producciones; Coser y Cantar; Cubica; Filmax; ICIC; ICAA; Canal+ España; TV3, TVE). Google Scholar

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Los ojos de Julia/ Julia’s Eyes, 2011, dir. Guillem Morales (Antena 3 Films; Canal+ España; Catalan Films & TV; ICIC; ICAA; Mesfilms; Rodar y Rodar; TV3, Universal Pictures). Google Scholar

El orfanato/ The Orphanage. 2007, dir. J. A. Bayona (Esta Vivo; Grupo Rodar; Rodar y Rodar; Telecinco; TV3; Warner; Wild Bunch). Google Scholar

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Para entrar a vivir/ To Let. 2006, dir. Jaume Balagueró (Estudios Picasso; Filmax; Telecinco; ICIC; Castelao Productions). Google Scholar

[REC]. 2007, dir. Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza (Castelao Producciones; Filmax; ICAA; IDO; ICF; ICIC; TVE; Canal+ España). Google Scholar

[REC]2. 2009, dir. Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza (Filmax; TVE; Canal+ España; Castelao; ICIC; ICO). Google Scholar

[REC]4: Apocalypse. 2014, dir. Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza (Filmax; TVE; Canal+ España; Castelao; ICIC; ICO). Google Scholar

Los sin nombre/ The Nameless. 1999, dir. Jaume Balagueró (Filmax; P. C. Joan Ginard). Google Scholar

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Author details

Davies, Ann