The other side The terror of Berto Romero: "We comedians always have a shadow over us that questions us"

Those who have followed Berto Romero's career may associate him with Andreu Buenafuente's personal Robin, an inseparable comic figure in his television shows and podcasts who has later conquered the world of cinema in small roles as an actor, in which we have seen him in disguise

The other side The terror of Berto Romero: "We comedians always have a shadow over us that questions us"

Those who have followed Berto Romero's career may associate him with Andreu Buenafuente's personal Robin, an inseparable comic figure in his television shows and podcasts who has later conquered the world of cinema in small roles as an actor, in which we have seen him in disguise. from smurf to unbearable hipster boyfriend. Little by little, the interpreter has been making his way into fiction also as a creator, but what many did not expect is that his latest project would be horror. Although The Other Side defines itself as a mystery series, there is a mix of dark comedy, supernatural investigation and real scares within the strange world of Spanish television parapsychologists.

This new television adventure, which Movistar Plus premiered last Tuesday, in some way portrays the dynamic of master and apprentice on television between the two presenters, only in this one Andreu is dead and accompanies Berto in the form of a ghost, almost like a Pepito Grillo who may or may not be in the head of Nacho Prieto, the protagonist, a disseminator of the paranormal in the doldrums who tries to adapt his journalistic rigor to a time of streamers, clickbait and other beasts that terrify all the professionals who have undergone the digital transition.

The tone is something unusual in his career, it is not known where he had something like that stored, but it seems that The Other Side redefines what he has to offer, very far from the fictions or shows in which we are used to seeing him. There is comedy, but not pure jokes, but rather a work of dark, traditional humor that is really a vehicle for a harsh domestic terror that is difficult to identify with the character. Berto defines a gray man, hopeless and apathetic with his current reality, so much so that his reality extends to a depressing and dull urban environment around his mid-life crisis.

A discovery that expands his limits as a storyteller. When they ask him where this adult, melancholic, almost depressing outlook has come from, he is not surprised. "I take with affection the eternal amazement when I do anything moderately well and everyone comes with a surprised face, but the truth is that there is no will to seek recognition. We comedians always have a shadow over us that questions us to see when we do something seriously, as if a serious role had to come to validate you, as if to say, 'ah well, yes, I think you're an actor.' Anyway, I think I was already giving clues in Look What You've Done, something else naturalist, which although it seems easier, because it was me, in reality it was not. In this case the series is dark and one thing led to another."

For his tutor, Andreu Buenafuente, we are witnessing the beginning of a new stage for Berto: "He is in full bloom, he has already completed the entire journey of a very long and proven genre, but he wanted to explore. I remember the surprise when he told me about it. because I didn't expect it to go that way, but it seemed reasonable to me, and I think many things of different colors are going to come." In the series, he plays Doctor Estrada, a mythical figure in the world of the fourth millennia. This has led him to develop the longest role of his career, moving away from the sympathetic cameos and incarnating a kind of Obi Wan Kenobi spirit for Nacho throughout the series.

It is an inverse dynamic to what they have normally had in their talk shows and podcasts together, since here their everlasting collaborator is the only protagonist. "Berto has managed to unlock a small aspiration of mine, without anxiety, he has given me the perfect vehicle to test. Not only because it is a world that I more or less know, beyond references, but in the end I have had to prepare a lot because it is something again, although I am very grateful because Berto is very generous and has given me almost all the jokes.

The idea of ​​entering the bowels of Cañí television and its characters through a dispute between a pseudonym of Íker Jiménez, played by Nacho Vigalondo, and the fictional Nacho is as if Muertos de Risa were starring aspiring professors Cavan de The Day of the Beast. The war of Spanish parapsychologists navigates through cathodic satire that portrays a parallel world of people dedicated to deceit, similar to that of Netflix's Phenomenas, but between darts of black humor it has chilling moments. The directors, Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro, are no strangers to the fantasy genre and in their latest forays they have moved towards horror, without ever losing a sarcastic vision of our way of being.

Already in Malnazidos it was noticeable that the humor did not come so much from the gags, escaping from what was expected into a parody, there is a custom that is funny because it is close and real, but it does not prevent the inexplicable elements from being scary. A maxim that Berto has also carried to the letter. "It's something I had experienced in Look What You've Done, not forcing comedy, no actor or actress is thinking they're doing one, but simply representing what happens and it's funny because people are funny and there's a clash between different people." And then, the desire to balance the two genres, not letting one bury the other, forced us to maintain a very naturalistic tone, because if we didn't drop the toy, and if you end up laughing a lot with these researchers, you wouldn't have space to worry you, and vice versa with a lot of fear, because that game on the line can take you to a terrain called mediocrity, but I think something very peculiar has remained.

My audiovisual consumption always tends towards the fantastic, terror and all this nonsense

The other side also draws attention to the decadent, warm look, as if it were really from the time where the first scholars of that spectral world came from, a world that surrounded the ideas of the author, who like many others also grew up with the adventures. by Tristanbraker. "I was wondering how something had not been done about the world of the paranormal in Spain, which is something that we all know, share and recognize, but it is also historical, it comes from publications from the 60s. In the series there is no specific reference to none, but they fall into everyone's classic patterns. I'm not an expert in anything, but I think that for 15 years of my life I listened to all of them every week, all the programs there were, especially radio, and I think I understood them. "She has become like music, I am good at imitating her tics, her prosopopoeia in her speech. There are many hours of cases and I know what the constants are in ghost cases, abduction cases, etc...".

On the contrary, Buenafuente did look for and use the great reference in Spain for this type of figure, Jiménez del Oso, the psychiatrist who filled the Spain of the transition with rigorous tours of cases and "those topics that conventional science cannot explain", such as the girl on the curve of Majadahonda or the emissaries of the cosmos in his programs Beyond or The Door of Mystery, dissemination spaces that were very useful in shaping his doctor Estrada. "I reviewed many of his programs, but I didn't look for an imitation," he says. "I do remember being fascinated by a scene that is the moment in which he is going to consume ayahuasca, the report of The Dead Man's Rope, which is very long, but which is a work of art as a reflection of that moment, of the time. "I couldn't believe it, it's something that television would never do now and today it's like doing audiovisual archaeology, but it did help a little, I recommend watching it, you're going to be amazed."

The truth is that anyone who knows Berto's career knows that his relationship with the fantastic was there, latent, ever since he made an original, more parodic zombie comedy, and yet, in this one, not only is the humor very different, but it leaves space for terror to be truly scary. "I wanted to do genre. In what I write for myself, I try to do what no one is going to offer me and I have already done a lot of comedy, for me it does not pose any risk and the fun is learning. This has been a radical change to be able to do something different and also something of a genre, because many people may not know it, but my audiovisual consumption always tends toward the fantastic, horror and all this nonsense."

The horror scenes in The Other Side are not discounted, in addition to having gore and violence, they really remind us of quite harsh classics like The Entity, a classic that comes to light when asked if there was any particular film or series that they had into account when making this fiction. "All this comes in 2020, we were in a very dark moment and it crystallized when I went to write, which is when several milestones appeared that have marked me as a viewer, such as At the end of the stairs, The Shining, The entity, which It is a film that is more or less unknown now, but at the time it had a tremendous impact on me, because it has the crudest way of portraying the attack of a spirit on a woman in that case."

However, scary movies give Buenafuente real chills, and not only is he not so used to watching them, but he had a really hard time catching up to prepare for the series. "I approach The Exorcist or The Shining scared when I see them I say, 'why am I suffering with this', and it affects me a lot, I have seen a few classics but the thing is... they are terrible! And at the same time you are like hooked, I respect the consumers of the genre a lot, but they impress me too much.