In Dictado* (English title Childish Games), the latest film from Spanish director Antonio Chavarrías (Las vidas de Celia/ The Lives of Celia 2006, Volverás / You'll Be Back 2002), Juan Diego Botto and Bárbara Lennie play Daniel and Laura, a childless couple confronted by an unusual situation after Mario, a childhood friend of Daniel's, turns up out of the blue acting strangely and wanting them to come with him to meet his 7 year-old child, Julia. Daniel manages to get rid of him, but he is obviously distressed by the encounter. That night Mario takes his own life in front of his daughter.
When the couple reads of Mario’s suicide in the newspaper the next day, Laura convinces Daniel they should attend the funeral. There, they meet Julia (Mágica Pérez) and learn that with her father's death she has become an orphan. A social worker explains that they have not been able to find any family members. At Laura's insistence, Daniel eventually agrees to taking the child into their home temporarily, despite his discomfort not only with the circumstances, but also with Laura's excessive enthusiasm at playing the role of mother. The tension builds as Laura tries to help Julia regain the will to live and Daniel begins to feel increasingly threatened by some of the young girl's behaviors, which are awakening memories of a terrible past involving Mario and his sister Clara -- a past that he thought he had put behind him.
The film has received mixed reviews in Spain. On the positive side, it has been compared favorably by some critics to well known suspense films, including Hitchcock's Vertigo. However, most critiques I have read end up with complaints about a lack of chills. I saw the movie recently and while I wouldn't call it great, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the number of frights sufficient -- but then maybe I have a lower chill threshold than people who watch movies for a living.
*The title Dictado is the name of a children's song Daniel hears both Julia and Clara sing.