'Offering to the Storm' Review: Netflix's Baztan Trilogy finale relies heavily on melodrama than narrative
'Offering to the Storm' is not a bad movie, but it just seems too long for a self-proclaimed slow burn, even when watched at twice the speed
Spoilers for 'Offering to the Storm'
Those who are aware of Dolores Redondo's 'The Baztan Trilogy' are no stranger to the story of inspector Amaia Salazar who uncovers the darkest truths about her family in the process of solving a crib-death investigation. It's a nuanced soap opera with several meandering narratives as we see Amaia embrace motherhood at the expense of learning the harrowing reality of her mother's past. It's just-premiered Netflix counterpart, however, relies more on melodrama than storytelling, that Redondo's three books are so widely known for.
Fernando González Molina's ambitious thriller tries doing Redondo's book justice with a Luiso Berdejo co-written script, but it loses its biggest charm and falls prey to what can be blamed on dramatizing the plot even more while leaving out some of the crucial elements that work for its folklorish and occult essences. We're not saying it's a bad movie; it just seems too long, even for a self-proclaimed slow burn, and even when watched at twice the speed.
The story in Netflix's 'Offering to the Storm' or 'Ofrenda a la Tormenta' begins the same way as Redondo's book of the same name. The recent death of a baby in its crib has sparked a controversy surrounding the accident. The baby's grandmother accuses the father due to a bludgeoning wound on the baby's head. But this is where the story begins to differ from the book. Instead of the grandmother warning Amaia (Marta Etura) of the evil, it's the baby's father who, when apprehended for trying to steal the baby's dead body, starts muttering, "I must finish this." In the prison cell interrogation, Amaia catches him muttering the name 'Inguma' -- an evil demon from Basque mythology that kills people while they are asleep.
They try to dismiss the claims as folklore and old pagan legends and call it another case of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) but instead of the book's engrossing reveal, the movie chooses to make it more about Amaia's journey towards closure. Instead of highlighting the similarity in interlinked murders from the nearby Baztan valley, the film takes more time to explore Amaia's personal life. In the previous installment, 'The Legacy of the Bones', Amaia's mother tries to murder her newborn son and then escaped during the ongoing police investigation. Everybody, including Amaia's sisters, believes Rosario is dead, but Amaia has hope. But unlike the book highlighting arguments between the sisters over the bakery, the movie decided to dig into Amaia's affair with judge Juez Markina (Leonardo Sbaraglia) while her husband nurses his heart-surgery recovering father with their five-month-old son.
It's unfair how the movie makes this story all about how flawed Amanda is with her obsession with a case that involves her so deeply. Having been through the prospect of such extreme loss, Amaia is vulnerable to the plight of mothers whose babies die mysteriously in their cots. It takes too long to show how the judge is besotted with her and how willing she is to compromise her time with her family.
The ending revolves around Amaia learning that it was this judge who was orchestrating the murders as part of witchcraft performing cult that feeds the Inguma for wealth and inexplicable prosperity. Judge Markina's father had started the cult, and the all initial members of it had sacrificed their children to feed the spirit that turned them into successful lawyers and doctors t all the high places. Amaia's mother too was a part of it, and it's a 'Hotel California' type situation. You can check out, but you can never leave.
Amaia's mother finally appears and leaves her traumatized more than ever and Amaia loses her closest work partner Jonan Etxaide (Nene) too in a body count that extends from old to adult, across anybody implicated by the sacrifices. But it doesn't feel quite the murder mystery because of how the minor romance subplot is exploited. It is more about the affair and how heavy the price, or punishments she pays for it. One of the biggest plus points of Redondo's books is how despite being part of a trilogy, they can be read on their own too, s an isolated story. The movie sadly misses out everything on that front. One needs to have watched the previous movies, or at least read the books to understand some of the relevances in the story. And not understanding the right context spoils the experience heavily. Maybe if the movie was actually a soap opera, it would have been able to do Redondo's books apt justice.
'Offering to the Storm' is now available for streaming on Netflix.