Movie Review: Terrified

Directed by Demián Rugna
Starring Maximillano Ghione, Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis, Julieta Vallina, Demián Salomón

It is not often that a film can have very little explanation of what is actually going on in the story, even once the final credits roll, and still be as effective as this one. For those who have not seen this yet, I will not mention any spoilers in this first part of my review, only because I feel it would be much better going into this completely blind. But there is so much I feel the need to comment on that in the second part I will go over some moments that I think are just amazing.

The story starts off simple enough with a wife standing by her kitchen sink, hearing some sort of noise seemingly coming from the drain. All we hear is some muffled noises that could be a voice, but it’s hard to tell. Once her husband comes home, at first a little annoyed that there is no dinner waiting, she tells him that she’s hearing the voices again in the sink. But then he immediately tries to play it off to being noises from the neighbor or something else and that they could just order out for dinner. But that night, when he is awakened by a loud thumping noise, he soon finds out how serious it is.

That’s all the lead up I’ll say. But it has been quite a while that a movie immediately drew me into a story, trying to figure out what might be going on, just as much as the characters in the film, as well as being creepy as hell. Argentinian writer / director Demián Rugna does an exceptional job creating goosebumps throughout most of the running time! There are jump scares as well as other highly effective sequences that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. They are well planned and perfectly executed.

Helping all of this are the actors bringing these characters to life and making you relate to more than a few. Maximillano Ghione plays Funes, a cop that is way over his head and is really struggling to understand what the hell is going on. This is the guy that the audience will follow since he is as clueless as we are. Ghione gives completely normal reactions when he sees something unnatural and terrifying. He calls an old friend, a retired police forensic specialist for help when he realizes he is at a lost. Jano, played by Norberto Gonzalo, who kind of reminded me of Hal Holbrook, is an older guy but is one that you just trust. Very kind, smart, and one that you’d listen to, even when he doesn’t seem to be making sense. The other two that come along to help figure out what is going on is Dr. Albreck, played by Elvira Onetto, and Prof. Rosentock, played by George L. Lewis. Both of these actors bring depth to their character, either the calm Albreck that doesn’t seem to be affected by it, and Rosentock who seems overjoyed at finding moments of the supernatural appearing, almost like a kid in the candy store! While everyone else is freaking out at what they are seeing, Rosentock is smiling, like “isn’t this cool?” This was Lewis’ first and only movie role so far and he was just brilliant here!

So, before I get into any spoilers or more details, if you haven’t seen the film, don’t read any further, but please seek it out. I hope you are as impressed with it as I am.

*** S P O L I E R S ***

Okay, so there are so many elements here that I just loved that I couldn’t really go into without giving away parts of the story or give away the scares. Also, once the film was over, and I started to think about the actual story, I was amazed at how little, if any, explanation they give us as to what is really going on, what might have caused it, or even how to stop it. Normally, it probably would have bothered me a little. Not that I need everything explained, but most stories give you little peeks behind the curtain to give you at least an idea of what it could be. Not here. After I thought about it, I realized it didn’t bother me a bit, because I was so caught up in what we were watching, admiring the shit out of the scares, that by the time the ending comes, I didn’t care because I had just been on one hell of an eerie thrill ride! There are little elements in the story that gives us little clues or filler to the story, but again, we’re never really sure.

Right in the beginning, after the guy comes back inside from just yelling at his neighbor’s house for banging on the walls in the middle of the night, he still hears the loud thumping as he’s walking back to his bedroom. When he sees his wife seemingly floating in the air in the bathtub, being slammed back and forth against the wall, it is the first look on his face, as he stares in complete disbelief, like he can’t comprehend what is happening, before the terror finally sets in. Just an amazing performance by Agustín Rittano.

The film opens up new ideas about hauntings, whether the creatures are demons or ghosts, we never know because it is never really explained. There are many strange things that happen that don’t follow any rules but make for effectives sequences. Like when the silverware is all hanging upside down from the bottom of the cupboard. Or when the Professor is stabbed by one of them, that his blood is being sucked up through the wood inside.

Then we have several incidents with some weird devices the investigators are using. Albreck has some sort of wooden contractions with something like a compass, that moves every now and then with a quick motion, as if something had triggered it. Jano has a compass needle floating in some sort of liquid which I’m guessing points to the monsters??? It was stuff like this that brought a new element to the sub-genre, giving it a unique and different look and feel.

It was so refreshing to watch something that brought something new and different, as well as being so creepy. Seeing so many horror films every year, it is always nice to get a good surprise like this one. Director Rugna is a new name for me, not being familiar with this work. But I will be from now on!

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