Terrified (aka Aterrados) Movie Review
Written by Joanna K. Neilson
Released by Shudder
Written and directed by Demián Rugna
2018, 87 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest UK Premiere on 26th August 2018
George L. Lewis
Juan’s wife is hearing voices in the kitchen pipes threatening to kill her. Odd cracks are appearing in the walls. There’s something terrible lurking under Walter’s bed. And people are coming back from the grave who should really remain dead. Right from its creepy opening scenes, it soon becomes clear that something is terribly wrong in an otherwise normal Argentinian suburb. The police are soon flummoxed as paranormal events escalate, and the weirdness starts to drive unfortunate citizens from their homes. The setup is extremely effective, and this ambitious feature wrings a lot of weirdness from its humdrum location.
Despite such a grounded story, Terrified didn’t get to me the way I expected it to. I don’t mind a slow start, but the pace jitters with too many false starts. There are beautifully weird moments, very creepy segments, hugely impressive effects, but it promptly stalls right as one expects a rollercoaster. It also jarringly switches out the lead character a third of the way in. While the mostly older cast are a pleasant change from the usual doomed teenagers, we still learn very little of great interest about any of them. The trouble is it keeps cutting away from the ordinary people we were following to another group, dividing the civilians and investigators into mostly separate sections. It’s like completely removing the Perron family from The Conjuring house once the Warrens turned up to investigate. Also, with knowing nods to everything from Poltergeist to the ‘Insidious’ style title card, horror fans will know mostly what they’re getting, although it still delivers several decently nasty surprises. You’ll soon be nervous of any unexplained cracks in the walls.
Terrified delivers some really great ‘I can’t believe they just showed me that’ moments, especially when it gleefully delves into body-horror. It’s well worth holding out for the brief moments when it really lets itself go. Then it’s pretty awesome. It’s a shame that it also becomes self-conscious and hesitant right when it could have really unleashed its potential, getting frustratingly close to it instead. Moving between three interlinked stories, in each of the individual haunted houses lurks a brilliant film. When it finally decides on its protagonist, someone more vulnerable to the supernatural stress than perhaps any character I’ve seen in horror films before, it also becomes much stronger. As the investigators explore the phenomena, the true nature of these hauntings is gradually exposed. But will anyone survive to make use of what they learn?
While the premise is fascinating, as a whole it never quite clicks into something really satisfying. But Terrified is still very much worth a look, as it builds a very convincing, haunted landscape out of the dreary suburbs, and the people living there feel very real and are horrendously out of their depth. I’d have still preferred to spend more time with them than the investigators. With its gnarly aesthetic, Terrified cleverly exploits paranoia and human weaknesses, and when it gets going it delivers the nastiest goods, gleefully tackling the more dangerous side of the paranormal in a convincingly scary way.
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