A husband returns home to find his wife terrified to enter their kitchen because there are voices coming from the pipes. Voices that are promising to kill her. That night as she goes to the bathroom he hears bumping from their neighbor. The husband goes outside and, standing at the gate, cannot get the neighbor to answer his intercom. He returns home, listens more carefully and realizes that the bumping noises are coming from inside their house. Inside the bathroom.
A cop, near retirement, investigates another strange occurrence across the street. Faced with an unearthly incident and short on answers he calls upon an old friend who has experience with paranormal investigations to help him solve this mystery. But is it an isolated incident? The old man calls upon a well known paranormal researcher and together they discover that all these incidents may be connected.
Demian Rugna's Aterrados (Terrified) opens with this stunning set piece that sets the pace for the rest of his film. The Argentinian paranormal horror flick, the first of its kind for that country, is a tremendous amount of terror and fun. The greatest compliment that I can pay Rugna, and I told him this at the opening ceremony, was that his movie scared me. Twice.
Aterrados is not without some minor imperfections; I'm nitpicking at minor continuity issues here. Nor is there any real explanation how everything began in the first place. Nor are there really central characters to follow until half way through the film. But more importantly the scares are on point and it bears repeating that the opening set piece is stunning. These first opening volleys reminded me a lot of the original Japanese Grudge films. Those sequential acts of horror that usually build towards an explanation of what is happening. As the timelines converge and the pieces of this paranormal puzzle come together then turns into a great paranormal investigation horror flick, like when the Insidious films are at their very best.
Once the three senior citizen paranormal investigators come into the story their investigations in the homes plagued by whatever has befallen them begins. All three experiences are different. Each of them bring their own methods and tools. Though they are confronting the same spectral force their experiences, discoveries and ultimately their fates will all be unique. With each of them in a different home we have immediately expanded the playing field and the opportunities for more individual experiences.
I do not want to take away from Rugna's movie but Aterrados works not because of what he does here. Anyone who has seen their lion's share of paranormal scary movies knows that he is playing around in very familiar territory. Rugna's core strength in Aterrados is how he does it. Great scary movies all come down to timing. Rugna lures you in with a sense of discovery, wonder and mystery about what is happening in each home.
"Hey. Isn't this thing here weird?"
"Yeah. That is weird. Let's take a closer look"
Here, Rugna is stretching out that moment and building up the anticipation and the tension. Something just has to happen. It just has to. Right then he reaches out and punches you in the face with genuine scares; great jump scares that got to me, and I am a jaded dick when it comes to set ups.
Rugna's sense of timing is spot on in this flick. He understands how to get your attention and keep it long enough to the point where you are not begging for release. He gets you before that, and that is why Aterrados works so well as a scary flick but also very fun movie. Between the surprises are subtle doses of humor that give you breathing room, that let relax and bring your guard down as he prepares to scare again.
I cannot recommend Aterrados enough for fans of paranormal horror flicks.