If you are a non-Spanish speaker and think you don’t like watching movies with subtitles, this masterpiece may change your mind. Terrified (2017) is a beautiful and macabre (hard to imagine those two words together huh?) Argentine horror film written and directed by Demián Rugna. Also known natively as Aterrados, This movie is in my top ten of all time for horror. This is a completely fresh concept in the supernatural and you will watch it more than once.
Terrified is almost a life’s work for Demián, and I know this because I found some of his amateur footage where he was fleshing out some of these scenes over a decade before this was made. Every moment in the movie means something, every word uttered is foreshadowing. The cinematography in this movie is beautiful, which is rare in a horror movie. The shots and scenes often feel more like a Sci-Fi or Fantasy movie due to the eye candy.
This is not a lazy movie that uses nothing but jump scares or graphic violence to tell the story. The plot is complex. This is not one of those movies where one poor sucker or one distraught family is being terrorized and nobody else believes them. The whole neighborhood is being spooked. So, let’s get right to it!
Something is in the drain and it’s not Pennywise
We open with Clara in the kitchen watching the sink drain, and listening. We cannot hear what Clara hears but it is obviously disturbing her. Her husband Juan arrives home and Clara lets him know that voices in the drain were telling her they were going to kill her. Juan of course is skeptical and believes she is just hearing old pipes or the neighbor Walter renovating in the townhouse next door.
They go to bed and Clara wakes up and goes to the bathroom. Juan again hears Walter banging on the walls and goes outside to try and talk to him. Walter does not answer and Juan returns home and still hears the banging and realizes it is coming from the bathroom.
Clara makes her exit stage left in a literal bloodbath (this will be important later).
Juan then appears in either a jail or mental institution and is meeting with three paranormal investigators who tell him they believe his story and are there to help. They are Jano an ex forensics investigator and Albreck and Rosentok, who are paranormal investigators. This completes the first ten minutes of this roller coaster. You are not going to get any breaks to breathe in this movie.
Walter is terrified, there is something under his bed
Walter is sweaty, shaky, and obviously dealing with a lot of stress. Walter is suffering with interrupted sleep, moving furniture and cannot find anyone to help him. Walter keeps looking under his bed and cannot see anything, but, we get to see what is under Walter’s bed and it is deeply disturbing. Walter gets fed up with not getting help and decides to video himself at night to get proof.
Walter catches his monster under the bed on tape and goes in another room to get a weapon to defend himself (I do though wonder why he was not sleeping with it by his bed). He preps for the showdown and we get yet another well constructed scene. We don’t really know what happened but Walter is then heard and seen yelling at a child to stay away from his yard. Is he actually trying to warn him or is it something more sinister?
Once again, every moment in this movie is meaningful.
Have you ever seen a beautiful rotting corpse?
Alicia’s son has come home. This child will crush Gage Creed’s (Pet Semetary) fearsomeness into the ground that they both seem to have dug themselves out of. He will win the battle of the creepy dead child without a word or drop of blood spilled. If for nothing else other than you are a special effects fan you have to watch this scene. I wanted to be in the home doing 360’s around this child. This is not just CGI this is flat out beautifully done hands-on magic.
Did Alicia in her grief go and dig her child out of the grave? Officer Funes did not think so but hopes so and that is why we called Jano to the scene to come up with an explanation.
They find Albreck outside in front of Walter’s home looking for him and taking pictures. She soon joins them and with Rosentok in tow we are back to the timeline right after visiting Juan. They are getting ready to do an investigation into the three homes that seem to be involved in the activity. They of course split up (would it be horror if they did not?) and set up to spend the nights in the three homes.
The climax is as methodical as the setup
There will be no crucifixes, no superstition, no miracles for these scientists. It is Funes alone who questions if they are doing the right thing by even being there. The rest of them are on a mission to find out exactly what is happening. They are looking for real life monsters and they find them. They seem to already be aware of what type of monsters they are looking for as comments include “I found what I was looking for” and “these beings like blood”.
The only thing typical about this movie is that the scientists seem to be mostly unmoved by the horror that is unfolding, almost giddy in it and the police officer seems to be the only one with the common sense to be absolutely out of his mind with fear.
I won’t give anymore spoilers but a scene involving Funes sitting in his car is so disturbing and I won’t give up its graphic insanity. It just makes you shudder. Some sequences feel so familliar that the recent hit Smile (2022) seems to have borrowed its demented sensibilities.
In another bold move, Rugna architects a scene where Funes has a heart attack. The scene is so fantastic and so authentic that it takes you right into the moment. Remember all those dreams you had as a child, but you could not escape the monster? With this film, Rugna takes you there. The roller coaster never stops all the way to the end and in horror tradition, we are set up for a possible sequel.
The night of the investigation the neighborhood homes seem oddly quiet. Does the infestation go far beyond what we have seen?
What can we expect going forward?
I am hoping for so much more from this director! Demián Rugna had talked about a sequel to Terrified, he even wrote one. I know nothing about the politics of who owns what when studios buy movies, but, it sounds like there might have been some complications around how all of that would work. COVID-19 played a part as well.
His goal was to be involved in the American remake of the movie. Rumor is that it is happening and going to be produced by Guillermo del Toro, but, I have not seen concrete evidence. Most remakes suck, but, with del Toro at the helm and the originator of the story directing we have hope.
I stress do not wait for what may never happen, jump into those subtitles and watch this. It represents the best of Argentine horror.
We are confirmed to be getting another movie by Rugna for sure, and hopefully we will know exactly when by the end of this year. Shudder bought distribution rights to When Evil Lurks (2023), the set up once again looks great and if we get the same type of cinematography and methodical touch it will be another hit. He also took part in Satanic Hispanics (2022). It has not been released here yet, but, I am hoping soon. It has rave reviews. I am a big fan of anthology films.
Terrified (2017) - An Argentine Masterpiece (aka Aterrados) - Malevolent Dark
Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33
- Intense scares and fantastic tension building
- Taps into our deepest fears
- Monsters under the bed
- Deals with traumatic loss of family which may be hard to watch
- Contains graphics parts that may offend the squeamish