Feb 8, 2019
We’re back with another Fantastic Fest review from Andrew Campbell. And what a film it is, taking home the Best Horror Feature at Fantastic Fest last year. Andrew compares it to a few works by Guillermo del Toro in the review, which is appropriate since the film has been picked up by the man himself for a United States remake. If that doesn’t get you hyped up for today’s review, I don’t know what will. Check out Andrew’s other reviews for the podcast using #FantasticFest or by searching on the Fantastic Fest blog tag at onemoviepunch.com.
Also, no jokes or skits today, just a huge thank you to Andrew for not just being a reviewer, but also being a sponsor for the podcast. I can’t tell you how much that shot in the arm last year kept this podcast going strong for 400+ episodes. I appreciate your guidance and your criticism. It has helped shape this podcast immensely.
Take it away, Andrew!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here - back with another film that debuted at last year’s Fantastic Fest. I have to confess that I did not get a chance to see it on the silver screen, but I was delighted in how quickly it got picked up for distribution on Shudder. At a festival chock full of scary movies, there were surprisingly few straight horror films, and none had a bigger buzz than this one for being truly frightening. A film has to contain something special to terrify an audience of obsessive horror fans. I set out to see if this one would translate to the small screen.
Today’s movie is “Terrified” (2017), the mysterious Argentine horror film written and directed by Demian Rugna. The film lingers on several characters before centering around Commissioner Funes (Maxi Ghione) who brings in a team of paranormal investigators to look into frightening and tragic events happening in three neighboring suburban homes. We are shown firsthand a number of disparate horrors before diving deeper to discern how they are connected and what is real.
The film begins with three separate stories, each of which could be the start of their own film, none of which are particularly unique in their plotting. What makes this film great is the way in which these stories are visualized and how we shift between each narrative through the lives of neighboring families. First, a woman hearing voices is tormented by unseen forces, after her husband initially suspects the man next door of creating the disturbances. We then see exactly what the noisy man had been up to in his house, fearful of an intruder that won’t let him rest at night. Finally, we are connected in stunning fashion to a third family across the road, whose unique terror has yet to begin. It takes nearly the first half of the film to really understand the direction of the story. With most movies, this would be a complaint, but here it showcases dread and terror with expert use of shadows, jump-scares and frightening imagery.
Maybe it’s my limited frame of reference, but I can’t help but compare the feel of this film to some of the Spanish-language works from Guillermo del Toro, such as “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”. What director Rugna brings to the table is a visual style as striking as early del Toro works, but set on a contemporary, pedestrian street, where the terror is better juxtaposed with the real world. The way you can feel how awful it would be to experience some of these terrors in your own home is what gets the heart really pounding. There is a lengthy scene that involves a very, let’s say, unique boy just sitting at the dinner table with a glass of milk that is one of the most memorable scenes I saw all year.
What makes “Terrified” (2017) fantastic?
The film serves from a top-shelf buffet of horror elements and connects them with an above-average mystery and genuinely interesting characters (both alive and dead). The concluding moments of this film may not leave you fully satisfied, but there are so many tasty morsels along the way. The film will absolutely leave you terrified, as its simple title promises. Paranormal entities are rarely well-explained in horror films and this one gives viewers just the right amount of answers.
“Terrified” (2017) is a horror masterpiece that is mercifully short, given the intense dread to which it subjects the viewer. Fans of otherworldly horror films in suburban settings, such as “Paranormal Activity” or “Poltergeist”, who are looking for a new way to be scared silly, will enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
One Movie Punch: 8.8/10
“Terrified” (2017) is not rated and is currently streaming on Shudder.
Come back next week and we’ll switch gears, leaving supernatural Argentina behind and heading north to urban Los Angeles. I will be reviewing Jonah Hill’s directorial-debut, “Mid90s”, a film that is more “Sundance” than “Fantastic”, but one that played well at the festival. Dust off your old skateboard and I’ll see you next week.