Argentinian movie ‘Terrified’ (aka Aterrados) is a gem; at its best its utterly terrifying, and at all other times it presents an interesting, and somewhat less traditional take on the modern ‘paranormal investigation’ plotline.
The film’s plot unfurls in an anthology fashion, following a series of violent supernatural events from the perspectives of several characters, although the film returns to more linear storytelling and concludes with all the stories culminating with plot line which follows a team of experts who have been sent in to the area to make sense of it all.
The film opens with the deliciously brutal killing of a young woman who had, only that evening, reported to her husband that she had been hearing voices in the kitchen threaten to kill her. The husband suspects that his wife is losing it, favouring an explanation that it is his anti-social neighbour clattering, banging, and ranting. Boy was he wrong. Indeed, his neighbour to is having issues. In the films most terrifying segment we see that he is being terrorised by a being which is stalking him from within his house – and not being to subtle about it either! Once that nerve shredding segment has finished with us, we move onto the films most chilling, and in many ways, cruellest segment. Concluding the films trilogy of supernatural occurrences, we see an experienced police officer investigate the return of a young boy’s corpse to the family’s home. Eerily the corpse, once making the trip from the grave, it positions itself, motionless in the dining room. Except, it’s not always motionless…
Following these segments, which I will hastened to add are possibly some of the best horror set-pieces I’ve seen in literally years, the film has one final segment through which get a few more scares and some satisfying exposition. Here a team of paranormal investigators enter the residences of the above victims and search for answers, and in doing so find themselves in an ever-escalating scenario which they might understand but are ultimately powerless to halter.
‘Meticulously well crafted’ seems to be the only statement I can offer which hopes to convey to you just how effective the films ‘scare’ sequences are. Effortlessly shifting from tension, to out right terrifying, this film takes everything good about recent modern horror; and drags them back into the underground. From the opening sequence, as we see a suspended victim callously beaten against a bathroom wall, over and over again, whilst her husband watches, ‘Terrified’ picks-up where last years ‘Hereditary’ left off.
And it doesn’t end there.
After setting the tone from its opening story, ‘Terrified’ charges full bore into a set of chills which combines every modern inspired method of film making, and a sprinkling of some classic ones for good measure. Watching one poor soul play cat and mouse with the most disturbing of entities we experience full fat Jump-scares, handi-cam phenomenon, contorted figures, entities creeping in the out of focus background – you name it its here, everything you’ve come to expect from modern horrors, but turned up to eleven. This set of sequences is nothing short of breath-taking, its tension grips you in a stranglehold; true nightmare fuel.
From here the tone of the film changes once again, this time, a chilling and bizarre set of scenes which will pretty much shred any nerve you have left. Whilst the previous story might have relied on your imagination and innate fears to enhance its effectiveness, this one doesn’t – it just forces you to stare at a child’s partially decayed corpse, time and time again. It’s actors, who by the way do a fine job throughout, stand in equal captivation, un-nerved and terrified. They don’t know what to do with themselves, and neither will you.
Just don’t forget to breathe!
To conclude and offer something of an exposition the film ends its anthology style and turns its attention to the paranormal investigation. Here, for me anyhow, the film falls back in line with its contemporaries, and whilst I enjoyed these scenes, they don’t offer quite the powerhouse scares and jolts of that which had come before.
That said, I don’t think I can be too critical, the opening hour of this film is of the finest I’ve enjoyed.
Overall, very impressive. Considering I stumbled over this film via a social media recommendation I can only hope that it gets distribution over here so I can buy it and experience it again – currently its available via streaming on ‘SHUDDER’. I’ve read somewhere that its already due for an English language remake, but I honestly wouldn’t wait. For fans of horror new and old, this one’s a keeper.