Jaula is a Spanish film available on Netflix under the title The Chalk Line. It stars Elena Anaya, who has been in several English language shows in small parts. Here she’s the lead in a film that can’t decide if it’s a mystery, a horror movie, or a psychological thriller.
When Jaula (The Chalk Line) begins, Paula (Elena Anaya) and her husband Simón (Pablo Molinero) are driving home at night. They see a child in the road and stop. She’s frightened, she won’t talk, and she’s ill. They take her to a hospital.
The little girl, played by Eva Tennear, is dubbed Clara because she responds to that name. She’s wildly uncontrollable. Somehow Paula can calm her down. Paula and her husband are appointed temporary guardians of the girl until the police can figure out who she is.
They discover that Clara needs to be inside a chalk line. They expand this chalk boundary slowly until Clara can navigate most of their house. Then strange things begin to happen. Chunks of broken glass are in the food. Metal contraptions are clanging in the washing machine. Simón and the nearby neighbors and friends all think Clara is doing it.
Meanwhile Clara is busy creating art, making little paper angels, and being a happy kid. One day when the social worker is there, Clara whispers some words in Paula’s ear. The words don’t make sense, but it’s the first time she’s talked.
Paula, who is 42 and desperate for a baby, is secretly giving herself injections to increase her chances of getting pregnant. She’s completely bonded with Clara. She and Simón disagree on how the cut glass is getting in their food. Simón wants Clara gone. Paula wants to keep her.
Then Clara disappears.
The police get into the act. They blame Paula and Simón. Paula goes over the line in her efforts to find Clara.
That’s when the horror part of the story begins. I won’t describe that for you because there are numerous spoilers involved, but the horror section makes up the third act and concludes the story.
Even though the film was tonally all over the place, it kept me engaged. The music was glaring and disturbing. The cinematography leaned toward somber shades and shadows. The villain (when we finally learn who it is through a series of flashbacks) is more wooden than menacing in aspect.
Elena Anaya was terrific as Paula. The youngster playing Clara was very good, too. This isn’t the best film you’ll ever see, but I found it interesting and engaging enough for a watch.
I can’t find a trailer to show you with English subtitles, but the film on Netflix does have them.