The Argentinian horror “Aterrados” (which translates to “Terrified”) is a skilled take on a genre movie, where what’s terrifying crawls under your skin and casts a shadow over the (quite) obvious plot chaos.
A suburban neighborhood in Buenos Aires is hit by a wave of gruesome events. A woman is brutally murdered and within a few days a boy is hit by a bus. Soon, three scientists and a police lieutenant decide to investigate the mysterious happenings – they believe that these deaths are all related to some mischievous, paranormal creatures that inhabit several houses in the vicinity.
If you’ve watched enough horror films, the plot of “Terrified” stinks like a B-movie bomb from miles away. Ghosts, creepy creatures, people dying – you’ve been there many, many times before, am I right?
The director of “Terrified”, Damien Rugna, visited these places too.
Therefore, Rugna is well aware of the obviousness of what’s happening in “Terrified”.
Instead of looking for depth of characters and focusing on a complex plot, the Argentinian director decides to forget the recipe and freestyle.
And to be fair, the Argentinian director is goddamn good at delivering the thrills, because his little horror darling quickly skyrockets with creepiness.
“Terrified” boldly exposes its array of blood-curdling menaces quite early in the film. Frankly, it’s a strategy rarely seen in horror movies. A vast majority of the genre filmmakers tend to drag the first clash between the monster and the viewers, until you can barely remember it’s a scary movie.
That’s not the case of “Terrified”. Rugna lays cards on the table in an early stage – there is a decomposing kid, there is a blood-curdling pale man, as well as a few other gimmicks that Rugna shuffles with. In doing so, he isn’t afraid of letting these creations stay in a scene for a couple of minutes, sedate the viewers and have them settle with the haunting presence. Only when this decomposing body begins to feel relatively normal, does Rugna begin the scare game.
Hence, as the story moves forward, Rugna immerses “Terrified” in more and more darkness, placing a dazed-and-confused police lieutenant in the middle of things, as a company to the three scientists doing their weird research. The police officer strengthens the feeling of disorder and darkness too, mostly thanks to the role of Maxi Ghione. Looking at the events from his perspective adds a misty, unreal filter to the film.
While the horror fraction blossoms, the plot structure is probably the weakest point in “Terrified”. Rugna jumps between characters rather clumsily, and with a scarce character development and major plotholes, he lacks enough bait to keep those viewers, who expect a coherent and thoughtful story.
The recipe to enjoy “Terrified” is to forget about the wish that it all makes sense. Because it honestly doesn’t.
Okay, is “Terrified” a good movie then?
If you’re looking for a thrill ride that doesn’t need to make a lot of sense, “Terrified” is a brilliant flick.
Damien Rugna crafts a dark, unpleasant atmosphere from the start and keeps on deepening it with a wide range of terrifying creatures. There is an undeniable quality in “Terrified” and horror connoisseurs will be pleased.
Dir. Demian Rugna
Hate Grade: 4/10