Terrified AterradosYear: 2017 (2018 U.S. Release)
Director(s): Demian Rugna
Writer(s): Demian Rugna
Region of Origin: Argentina
Rating: n/a
35mm, Color, 87 mins

Synopsis: When strange events occur in a neighborhood in Buenos Aires, a doctor specializing in the paranormal, her colleague, and an ex police officer decide to investigate further. (Source)

Horror has become one of the broadest genres out there. There are creature features, paranormal thrillers and even psychological films that dig deep into our subconscious. At the end of the day, however, these films all want to do the same thing – scare the living daylights out of us. Director Demian Rugna’s Terrified knows this, and his latest is a masterful exercise in no-nonsense scares. Rugna removes all of the boring bits that weigh down most horror films and packs his with an unrelenting series of jolts. They just never stop, keeping us on the edge of our seats and beating us into submission. This is a film that smartly pays tribute to what we love most about the genre, but still manages to surprise at every twisted, bloody turn.

In an unsuspecting neighborhood in Buenos Aires, three neighbors fall victim to mysterious, violent acts that defy nature. A couple hears menacing voices in their house. Their next door neighbor is haunted by an entity that won’t let him sleep. Across the street, a grieving woman receives a visit from her dead son, setting into motion a conspiracy which drives her mad. Three paranormal investigators and an ex-cop believe that these occurrences are all connected. One night, they decide to set up shop in each respective home, determined to solve a mystery that transcends our perception of reality itself.

By and large, this is a film that knows exactly what it wants to do. Rugna hits the nail on the head with clockwork precision. Every. Time. The plot does have a bit of a unique structure, which I won’t spoil, but there’s a simplicity that lets the scares shine. There’s no pretension, just shocks that cast a wide range and keep us guessing. In any given scene, we know that something is about to happen, but we fall for it anyway. Rugna’s keen sense of rhythm is irresistible and his staging breathtaking. There’s also something admirable to the way that Rugna plays with classic stereotypes and ghouls. The archetypes here have been watered down over the years, but are emboldened with a newfound sense of primal terror. Though the narrative themes are a bit light, the film does hint at a very clever mythology. We actually get a new perspective of the old and it forces us and each character to see things in a new light, quite literally.

It’s also worth nothing that while the film’s ensemble may not have the most dramatic weight to cling to, everyone is great to watch. Each actor brings their own charm to everything, offering a sense of wonder and humanity to compliment the film’s heightened sense of danger. The film easily gives credence to the idea that horror films give us the best performances. They force each character to remain in an extreme state for so long, and the ensemble here definitely keeps us immersed in the unrelenting dread.

If there’s a single word that describes Terrified, it’s ferocious. No matter how many horror films you’ve seen, this is still a breath of fresh air. What Rugna has pulled off is a horror fan’s wet dream. From a plot that resembles a delicate jigsaw puzzle, to the nerve-tingling set pieces, this film does not mess around. It’s classic horror amped up to 11, and you’ll love every second of it. You may also want to keep the lights on at night, and that’s the best compliment you can give a horror movie like this.

SG