PHENOMENA on Netflix is a new Spanish horror-comedy (org. title: Fenómenas) with the most amazing cast. It might start out light and funny, but it turns dark toward the end. Think Ghostbusters meets Insidious. Read our full Phenomena Netflix movie review here!
PHENOMENA is a new Netflix horror-comedy from Spain (org. title: Fenómenas). If you’re a fan of Spanish genre movies, you’ll recognize at the very least some of the stars in this amazing cast. Also, it’s based on the true story of the Hepta Group which investigated paranormal activity.
When this Netflix movie begins, it is very much a horror-comedy with an emphasis on the latter. Towards the third act, however, it becomes more of a dark horror movie. In that sense, it reminded me of the movies in the Ghostbusters and Insidious franchises.
Continue reading our Phenomena movie review below. Find it on Netflix from April 14, 2023.
Based on the true story of the Hepta Group
As mentioned at the beginning of Phenomena, this movie is based on the true story of the Hepta Group. Sort of like Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring franchise. Only the Hepta Group is made up of three women. Middle-aged women, when it comes to the story told in this Netflix movie. We do also go back and hear a bit about some of their previous cases.
In this particular story, though, they’re three chain-smoking women in their 50s, who takes no crap from anyone. Especially each other!
Maybe that’s why it also made me think of Insidious. There are some funny and quirky supporting characters helping out, but these three ladies have the same talent and sass as Elise (Lin Shaye) in Insidious.
The story plays out in the late 1990s, when an investigation team specializing in paranormal phenomena, the Hepta group, is investigating a case. At that time, the group isn’t working actively on cases much anymore and are busy with other things. From dating to being grandmothers.
However, when a Priest they’ve worked with for years ends up in the hospital from having investigated a case on his own, they agree to investigate. The paranormal investigation takes place in an antique shop and becomes the most difficult of their lives.
The most amazing cast
As stated initially, Phenomena has the most amazing cast. Honestly, the casting alone is enough reason for me to check out this Netflix movie.
The actual Hepta Group is made up of Sagrario (Belén Rueda), Paz (Gracia Olayo), and Gloria (Toni Acosta). With Father Girón (Emilio Gutiérrez Cava) being their constant companion on cases. Until he tries to go alone and ends up in the hospital.
Belén Rueda is a Spanish horror icon in her own right. From starring in Spanish genre movies such as The Orphanage (2007) and Julia’s Eyes (2010) to El cuerpo (2012) which has been remade in several other countries. More recently, she was in The Pact (2018), Mirage (2018), and Twin Murders: The Silence of the White City (2019).
Later this year, we’ll be seeing Belén Rueda again in La ermita which is a horror movie co-starring Laura Galán from the brilliant serial killer movie Piggy (2022).
In key supporting roles, we also see Ivan Massagué who starred in the Netflix movie The Platform. He looks and acts very differently here and is definitely a huge part of both the horror and comedy in the beginning. Also, there’s Miren Ibarguren as the virtually unrecognizable The Caretaker and Lorena López in an early key role.
Watch Phenomena on Netflix now!
The director of Phenomena (org. title: Fenómenas) is Carlos Therón, who has been directing both feature films, short films, and TV series episodes since the turn of the century. The screenplay was written by Marta Buchaca and Fernando Navarro. Both have been writing screenplays for a long time, but at Heaven of Horror, we’re most familiar with one of them.
Screenwriter Fernando Navarro co-wrote the screenplays for the 2017 horror movie Verónica, the 2020 Netflix genre hybrid Unknown Origins, and the thriller Below Zero (2021). All three are very much worth checking out.
Unfortunately, if there’s one thing I didn’t love about Phenomena, it was the storytelling in the first act.
There was an information overload that made me almost give up on keeping track. With a runtime of just 1 hour and 34 minutes, maybe an additional ten minutes could’ve helped here. Just taking a bit more time to set the stage wouldn’t have hurt.
Will there be a Phenomena 2?
Hopefully, we’ll be getting a sequel to Phenomena on Netflix. In fact, it seems quite likely that Phenomena 2 is already being considered. When you watch the final moments of the movie and the end-credit scenes of Phenomena, it is heavily indicated that there’s more to the story.
Also, make sure you notice the three older women walking by the café during the final moments. These are the actual women of the real Hepta Group.
Phenomena (org. title: Fenómenas) is on Netflix globally from April 14, 2023.
Director: Carlos Therón
Writers: Marta Buchaca, Fernando Navarro
Cast: Belén Rueda, Gracia Olayo, Toni Acosta, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Iván Massagué, Miren Ibarguren, Antonio Pagudo, Óscar Ortuño
Three middle-aged women who investigate paranormal events are put to the test when their leader Father Pilón disappears. Inspired by the real Hepta Group.