Fantastic Fest review: 'The Wait' escalates western thrills quickly

Victor Clavija stars in "The Wait." Photo courtesy of Unfiled Films
1 of 5 | Victor Clavija stars in "The Wait." Photo courtesy of Unfiled Films

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Spanish film The Wait, which screened at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, is a western with universal themes that are still relevant in modern day. The tragedy that befalls its protagonist is engrossing and hopefully cautionary.

Eladio (Victor Clavijo) tends Don Francisco's (Pedro Casablanc) hunting estate. After three years, Don Carlos (Manuel Morón) orders 13 hunting stands when the land is only designed for 10.


Eladio warns Carlos there is danger of crossfire with too many stands, but even Eladio's wife, Marcia (Ruth Díaz) pressures him to do it for the extra money. Of course, the unthinkable does happen and Eladio is left to deal with it.

The Wait is set in Andalusia in the '70s but its depiction of the pressure forced on people to make bad decisions is timeless. When the inevitable outcome still happens, it spirals.

Carlos isn't in trouble for this. He didn't lose anything. Eladio is the one stuck with the fallout, and he has to keep solving problems that arise from the first problem, like whack a mole.

By this point, Eladio has already lost so much he'll never get back. Since Eladio is a fictional character, one hopes that audiences might remember the lesson before they make bad decisions they can't take back.


Unfortunately, these sorts of stories will always be valid because in every generation, people think they have a shortcut or surefire scheme. People keep thinking they are immune to consequences until it is too late to make the right decision.

Eladio is a more tragic character because, left to his own devices, he would have done the right thing. He would've refused Carlos but even his own family pressured him.

Most of The Wait features Elaio alone dealing with problems. The film remains gripping to see him put out fires, metaphorically speaking. Actual fire is just about the only thing he doesn't have to deal with.

The further along Eladio goes, he has some dream sequences filled with horror imagery. It makes sense contextually, as Eladio is wracked with guilt. It's emotional as he yearns for a healing that can never 100% come.

Director F. Javier Gutiérez stages much of The Wait in long, steady shots like the classic Sergio Leone westerns that took their time. However, Guitiérez manages to wrap up his in 102 minutes.

The Wait fits snugly in the western archetype of wealthy ranchers and cowboys, as well as the modern disparity between the 1% and regular workers. It's violent, but the most disturbing theme is the inevitability of foreseeable disasters.


Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

Latest Headlines