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Film / Tesis

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"My name is Ángela. They are going to kill me."

Tesis ("Thesis") is a 1996 Spanish thriller film.

It tells the story of Ángela, a film student working on her college thesis about violence in movies. When her tutor dies watching a Snuff Film in a secret room of the university's library, Ángela hides the film and enlists the help of Chema, a strange boy in her class with an interest in gore. The appearance of another, enigmatic student named Bosco and the entry of her new tutor will further complicate things, as Ángela tries to uncover the author of the mysterious video.

Tesis was director Alejandro Amenábar's first movie, made while he was himself in college, and was written by Amenabar and Mateo Gil. The movie won seven Goya Awards in 1996, including the award for Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director. It stars Ana Torrent as Ángela, Fele Martínez as Chema, and Eduardo Noriega as Bosco.


Tropes that apply to this movie:

  • Accidental Murder: Chema kills Castro while trying to disarm him. This convinces him more about not going to police, since he thinks they will just treat him and Ángela as murderers.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Ángela is obviously attracted to Bosco from the beginning, despite being introduced to him as a possible Serial Killer of young women, and refuses to report her suspicions until she's sure he's not innocent.
  • Alone with the Psycho/I Have You Now, My Pretty: Happens twice to Ángela. First with Castro, before Chema saves her, and then with Bosco.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Played with. Ángela flees into a room and closes the door when she sees Bosco in the house, presuming that he has broken into. Cue her mother walking in to tell her that she has been talking to her "friend" and he's been waiting for her for a while.
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  • Ambiguous Disorder: Ángela is introduced while trying to peek on a man who has committed suicide by jumping before the train she's travelling in. After that, she seems to never smile, is obsessive about her chosen violent theme, and has no apparent friends. Though to be frank, every character with more than a couple of lines seems to be off in some way.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Ángela's younger sister nonchalantly blurts the theme of her thesis to Bosco, which makes him easily deduce why Ángela was tailing him, and later goes on a date with him.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The killer saws the limbs of his victims while they are alive.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Based on a single video, Chema is able to guess the kind of camera in which it was filmed. Subverted when it's revealed that he owns the same type of camera.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Bosco murders his girlfriends on camera when he gets tired of them.
  • Beard of Evil: Castro has the fullest and best trimmed beard of all characters in the film.
  • Betty and Veronica: Chema and Bosco for Ángela, though she presumably ends with neither.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The killer finishes his victims with a shot in the mouth before they can die of their injuries as ends happening to the killer himself.
  • Brown Note: Ángela's first tutor dies of a heart attack while watching the film. Ángela takes it, but she's reluctant to watch at first and only listens to it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The knife Ángela takes from Bosco's kitchen later saves her from him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The killer aims to inflict as much pain as possible before killing his victims. That includes hitting them in the head with a hammer and cutting their limbs with a hacksaw, among other things.
  • Dating Catwoman: Ángela is attracted to Bosco, which he exploits right to the end when he tries to distract her by asking the color of his eyes, in an attempt to grab the gun out of her hands.
  • Death by Irony/Karmic Death: At the end, Bosco unwittingly records his own death by gunshot in the same place, with the same camera, and with the same gun that he used to commit his murders, and at least part of it is shown on TV for everyone to see.
  • Drop the Hammer: One of the few direct glimpses of the film is the killer swinging a hammer above the missing girl.
  • Evil Gloating: Both Castro and Bosco go on tirades about what they want to do with Ángela after she uncovers them. Justified; as snuff filmmakers, they want to scare their victims as much as possible.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Though obviously scared beforehand, Angela doesn't sob or try to bargain after she's tied to the killer's chair.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Snuff Film within the movie is never really shown, only a few glimpses and shots of people reacting to it.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted:
    • Ángela starts following Bosco after she sees him with the camera type used to make the snuff movies. He notices and turns back, then starts following Ángela when she tries to act like she wasn't.
    • See Death by Irony/Karmic Death above.
  • Hypocrite: Ángela is very vocal about her dislike for violence and her disgust for anyone who revels in it, yet every time there's something really violent she can't help herself but to look, and she records the screams from the Snuff Film to listen to them. The film uses this to underline that, regardless of how much society reviles violence, it is inevitably attracted to it.
  • Idiot Ball/Villain Ball:
    • The most common criticism of the movie is how stupid it is for the killer to store the snuff movies in a room college library where anyone can walk in at any moment. The whole movie would not have happened if only Castro or Bosco had kept the copies safe in their property.
    • Bosco traps Ángela and ties her to a chair, yet misses that she has a literal knife up her sleeve, allowing her to escape.
  • MacGuffin: The Snuff Film that 'kills' Ángela's teacher.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Ángela, who tries to look at the dead body at the station and is writing her thesis about violence in film; Chema, who has gore and violent videos and a house decorated with monster motifs; Castro and Bosco, who film snuff movies.
  • Police Are Useless: Chema and Ángela refuse to report anything to police until the movie is over. The university's security guards are useless too, leaving without checking on Ángela's first tutor and not realizing he is dead, despite having a security camera on the projection room.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Chema can only spell the word "garage" when he tries to warn Ángela about Bosco. This leads Ángela to said garage, where she discovers that it is the place used to film the murders, and she is immediately taken prisoner.
  • Red Herring: Ángela discovers that Chema lied about not knowing Bosco beforehand, that he has the camera type used in the murders in his closet, and that he has been following and filming her while she investigated the case without her consent. He's not involved in the crimes.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: An obvious take on the 1992 disappearances and murders of the Alcasser Girls, just moved to a film school, and the Conspiracy Theory that they were abducted by snuff movie makers in particular. Similarities include the killer talking about sawing a hand and finishing with a headshot, which was said to have happened to Miriam García (in reality, the hand's bones had been dislocated during decomposition and left accidentally at the scene), and Ángela fearing for her young sister when she sees her talking to Bosco in a disco (the Girls disappeared when they were going to one). Finally, the ending has the people looking forward to Bosco's death on TV, an obvious reference to the unprecedented exposure and sensationalism in the media about the Alcasser case.
  • Serial Killer: The epilogue reveals that Bosco murdered 16 girls and buried them in his property.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Played with. Ángela fears for her sister when she sees her talking to Bosco at a disco, but can't share the reasons with her... so she kisses Bosco in front of her.
  • Snuff Film: The MacGuffin of the movie.
  • Nice Guy: Chema, in contrast to the alluring bad boy Bosco.
  • No Social Skills: Chema isn't the most diplomatic person around.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ángela's crush on Bosco doesn't seem very healthy at the end of the movie, and Chema is also one of these, with him stalking Ángela and filming her at her house.
  • The Sociopath: The person who filmed the Snuff Film, namely Bosco, and also Castro.
  • Take That!: Jorge Castro is famously based in one of Amenábar's college teachers, Antonio Castro, whom Amenábar claimed made him fail his exams due to disagreements. Notably, Antonio fired back at Amenábar in an interview and revealed that the latter never bothered to attend his exams (which Amenábar retorted by claiming he would have surely failed him).
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Noriega's Bosco. Not surprising that Ángela develops a crush on him (or that he fully uses it to his advantage).
  • Treacherous Advisor: Castro to Ángela. Chema is also discovered to have been hiding information from Ángela and suspected of being the killer at one point, but he genuinely wants to help her.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Unbeknownst to Ángela, Bosco and Chema knew each other before and even share an old photo.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Ángela flip-flops during the movie between believing Bosco innocent and wanting to clear my name and believing he's the killer and wanting nothing with him because of that.