The Argentinian horror Aterrados (2017) (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.
When you’ve watched enough horror films, the plot of Terrified (2017) smells of 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 (2017), Damien Rugna, visited these places too.
Fortunately, instead of looking for depth to his characters, or focusing on a complex plot, the Argentinian director decides to forget the old recipe and go freestyle. And to be fair, Rugna is goddamn good at delivering the thrills, because his little horror darling quickly skyrockets with creepiness.
Terrified (2017) 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 (2017).
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 (2017) 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 odd research. The police officer strengthens the feeling of disorder and darkness too, mostly thanks to the role of Maximiliano 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 (2017). 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 (2017) is to forget about the wish that it all makes sense. Because it honestly doesn’t.
Terrified (2017) – Culturally Loved or Hated?
Through a dark, unpleasant atmosphere, and a wide range of terrifying creatures, this Argentinian movie will please horror connoisseurs.
Hate Grade: 4/10
Director: Demian Rugna
Writer: Demian Rugna
Starring: Maximiliano Ghione, Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto
Music: Pablo Isola
Cinematography: Mariano Suarez
If you liked Terrified (2017), you might also want to check out:
- The Conjuring (2013) – the first part of the series holds a similar, eerie premise, and Terrified (2017) has definitely been influenced by it
- Veronica (2017) – partly about possession, but it also has a similar vibe of intertwined worlds
- Thirteen Ghosts (2001) – a classic horror from the early 2000s, where haunts and monsters populate the screen
- I Remember You (2017) – an Icelandic film which mixes a crime cop thriller with horror