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The Coffee Table – Grimmfest 2023 (Film Review)

2 min read
The Coffee Table

Image: © Cinephobia Releasing

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

For even the most hardened genre fans, La Mesita Del Comedor ( is sure to elicit a strong reaction. A shocking film that sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, taking you to a place of utter disbelief and horror. Screening for unsuspecting film lovers at this year's as well as in the US, the brutal black comedy is the latest feature from Killing God director and it left viewers at Manchester's Odeon gobsmacked as the credits rolled.

Although their marriage is struggling, Jesús (David Pareja) and María (Estefanía de los Santos) have just welcomed their first child and are adjusting to life as new parents. Part of the change has seen them give their apartment a new look and while shopping for a coffee table, the couple fight. Jesús eventually gets his own way and buys a gaudy, gold-plated piece that will become the worst decision of his life.

The film's direction is clear from its initial moments, and yet this doesn't detract from the journey as Casa ramps up the tension throughout, locking the audience into a room with a proverbial bomb and making them wait and wonder how it's going to explode.

The Coffee Table kicks off with a jaw-dropping, heartbreaking accident that consumes the narrative and plays out as a bizarre caper comedy that, to say is incongruous with the subject matter, would be an understatement. The film's ability to hold onto humour through the utter devastation is brilliant, with off-beat, quirky comedy, double entendres and bleak jokes littering the plot.

It's a film carried by David Pareja's masterful performance as Jesús who we see desperately trying to hold his family together in the face of a nightmare. One compounded by his crumbling relationship with María, his fractious yet loving connection with his brother Carlos (Josep Riera), and meeting his brother's teenage girflriend Cristina (Claudia Riera) for the first time. Jesús , and by extension the audience, possesses an uncomfortable truth unknown to the others that will leave audiences squirming.

What exactly has happened is slowly unveiled over the course of the film's 90 minute runtime before giving way to a frantic finale that renders the film's gentle title with a horrifying new meaning. Never showing too much in the way of gratuitous violence or gore, Casas's masterful direction makes audiences use their imagination to devastating effect. Not for the faint-hearted, The Coffee Table breaks the boundaries of being a simple horror film or a dark comedy, paying off for those brave enough to watch. A wonderfully executed film that is equal parts distressing and devilishly funny.

The Coffee Table was screened at on October 7.