Friday , June 14 2024
The Coffee Table

Fantastic Fest Exclusive Interview: Director Caye Casas on ‘The Coffee Table’ – It Breaks and Breaks Your Heart

The Coffee Table, a 2022 Spanish production, made its North American premiere at Fantastic Fest. I don’t believe I have ever seen a more heart wrenching film about family and relationships than this tragic tale. I asked writer/director Caye Casas questions about the creation of this amazingly dark, but incredibly well-done film.

Fantastic Fest ran September 21 – 28, at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, Texas. The largest genre film festival in the U.S., Fantastic Fest specializes in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and unusual films from all around the world.

The Coffee Table

This story involves a middle-aged couple, Maria, played by Estefanía de los Santos, and Jesús, played by David Pareja, who have recently had a baby after years of trying and fertility treatments. The complexities of their relationship set the stage for an event which changes lives.

Coffee Table Kitsch

Maria, the dominant party in the relationship, decides on everything from major events to the details of their life down to the color of the paint on the walls. Jesús wants to reestablish his macho credentials. He decides to buy a coffee table. Not just any coffee table.

The Coffee Table
Estefanía de los Santos plays Maria

If there were an award for tasteless, garish furniture, this coffee table would be the world champ. Two stylized, naked, golden lady statues hold up a piece of glass. When Jesús takes Maria to see it, she of course hates it.

Even the scariest thrillers need a touch of humor, and in the case of The Coffee Table that comes from the furniture salesman played by Eduardo Antuña. He uses every sleezy used-car salesman tactic to get Maria to agree to this purchase. He even tries to convince the couple that the glass is unbreakable, and this comes off as silly during the sale, but broken glass becomes significant later.

No Monsters or Ghosts

My questions for writer/director Caye Casas:

I noticed both you and your co-writer Cristina Borobia have done horror in the past, but this seems much more like a psychological thriller than straight up horror. What were you aiming for?

We had mainly done black humor stories, that is a characteristic of our style. The black humor that’s in The Coffee Table crosses the limits of the unbearable. For us The Coffee Table is psychological gore, a tragedy with touches of the blackest humor you can imagine, one of the cruelest films in history. That is our idea.

The Coffee Table
Writer/Director Caye Casas

Was there a particular inspiration for the story?

We wanted to make another type of horror that can be seen. Here there are no monsters, no ghosts, no murderers. The terror is real life and how cruel destiny can be. Fate can destroy any of us and make you live in hell. Our inspiration was to show that life can be terrifying, even more than death.

Were you hoping people who saw it would be changed somehow?

Many people who see it say that it is the movie that has made them suffer the most in their lives. What we hope is that watching The Coffee Table is an unforgettable, extreme and unique experience. It is different from anything seen in the world of horror. Our film is made so that people experience strong emotions and see that you don’t need a lot of blood or monsters to feel horror.

Who is the Hero?

It seems to me that there is no protagonist or antagonist. Everyone seems a victim of circumstance. Is that what you intended?

For us there are two protagonists. Jesús and the public, the audience that watches the film. Since only Jesus and the audience know what has happened in history, and they suffer the same thing, they feel the nerves, tension and horror together. In this film the audience is the protagonist since they feel the same as the true epicenter of the story, Jesús.

The Coffee Table
David Pareja as Jesus discovers ultimate pain

Where can people see it?

At the moment, we are in several international festivals. Leaving people in several countries traumatized…hahahahaha! But I hope we have sales and it can be seen in theaters and platforms in the US. We want a lot of people to talk about our film, since for many people who see it, it is the cruelest film that has ever been made.

More Info

For the latest Fantastic Fest developments, visit its website and follow the fest on Instagram, Facebook, and X/Twitter.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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