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one night with adela tribeca.jpg

Tribeca Review: Laura Galán Snatches The Scream Queen Crown Via 'One Night With Adela"

By Jason Adams | Film | June 19, 2023 |

By Jason Adams | Film | June 19, 2023 |

one night with adela tribeca.jpg

At what point can we officially crown an actor a Scream Queen? Was Neve Campbell a Scream Queen due to only the first Scream itself? Or was it that that movie came out alongside The Craft that did it? Or did it take until Scream 2 came out the following year that we could safely plunk that crown down on her head? Are we right to call Marilyn Burns or Janet Leigh “Scream Queens” just because their most prominent horror roles mark the greatest examples of the genre? Does it not take more sweat and elbow grease though, akin to what Jamie Lee Curtis’ did by making Halloween then The Fog then Prom Night then Terror Train and beyond?

These are existential—silly, but existential—questions to any horror fan. And I find myself pondering this silly but existential query today because two fantastically brutal leading roles down, I find the Scream Queen crown in my hands and I find myself thinking it’s time to drop it onto Spanish actor Laura Galán’s most worthy head.

First, there was Carlota Pereda’s deeply dark slasher Piggy, which premiered at Sundance last year and which was titled after the cruel nickname that Galán’s bullied teenager had been given by her classmates. Galán already wowed me there, twisting her Final Girl character on a needle’s point between heroism and sadism.

But now, premiering this past week at Tribeca, has come writer-director Hugo Ruíz’s relentless debut feature One Night with Adela, a film which asks even more of the actress. And which she knocks right out of the park. The state. The stratosphere. Crown this woman, stat.

Structured in real-time, and shot as one of those deceptive single-take flicks a la Rope or 1917 where, for example, the camera will go in close onto a character’s back so we don’t see the edit, One Night with Adela is about, well, one night with Adela. And Adela, played by Galán, is quite the woman we will come to find out.

Granted Adela doesn’t seem much at first glance. Which, it seems, is Galán’s secret weapon. It worked to her favor in Piggy too—the only reason we’ve been told by cinema since first flicker to notice the characters Galán specializes in, is to pity them—to ridicule, and to loathe. Short and overweight with a scarred midsection and a permanent scowl etched into her face, she’s not playing anybody’s “fat friend.” Her characters are angry, distant, and they hold grudges. And if you notice them it’s best to find something else to occupy your time, and fast. That’s how they want it, and they’re gonna get their way. One way or another.

Adela is working when we first meet her—the solitary night-time driver of one of those street-sweeping trucks in Madrid, she drives, and drives, and drives, and she listens to the local call-in radio show. We can already sense something is off with her pretty quickly, but it’s only once Adela steps off the truck and a pack of drunken louts start immediately cat-calling her with filthy insults that we begin to get a sense of just how off Adela is. Goodness, do we ever.

And what follows a quick act of brutality is a spiraling whirlwind with Adela at its violent center, sucking everything—from strangers to piles of cocaine and pills to that radio-show host—into her disturbed plan of vengeance against a world she’s felt wronged by from day one.

The film finds an assured and drum-like rhythm through its real-time structure—each episodic spectacle of horror broken up by a long scene of Adela walking or driving to and fro, from victim to co-conspirator to a horny interlude with the world’s hottest sex-worker. Adela is seizing this night by the balls and fucking it every which way from Sunday. And by the time she stomps to her final destination you’ll be screaming to crown this horror queen too.