Terrified (not to be confused with Terrifier) was supposed to be a Halloween season watch for me last year, but as so often happens during that time, things got away from me. I had been hearing strong buzz about it in horror circles so I promptly added it as the first entry for the following year’s Summer of Horror. And indeed it turned out to be the perfect way to kick off this season’s marathon, because it was good but not SO good that it spoiled every subsequent film of the Summer, as Hereditary did.
Horror films from Spain and Latin America (this one’s from Argentina) often have a similar approach to the supernatural. They tend to favor twisted, contorted human forms in otherwise mundane urban and suburban environments. Attics, basements, crawl spaces, slender, stretched out arms seeking blindly in the darkness, that kind of thing. And I love that kind of thing. It’s the scariest kind of horror for me personally. It takes you right back to that childhood “scared of the dark” mode. Lying in bed, imagination betraying your will to fall asleep, wondering what’s in the shadows. In Terrified there are many something’s in the shadows inside many homes.
You’ve heard of haunted houses but how about a haunted neighborhood? Seems a whole cluster of houses has been marked by an evil presence – it’s not really explained why or how – and when a particularly violent poltergeist kills a woman and orchestrates the “accidental” death of a young boy, the local cops come to investigate. Oh, and the corpse of that young boy happens to have made his way back home for lunch in a most unsettling fashion.
From there it’s a classic “ghost hunting team” kind of movie with police and paranormal researchers going in woefully understaffed and underprepared – in the middle of the night, naturally. But unlike The Conjuring and other similar American productions it doesn’t kick into a high-octane action-horror spectacle at this point. It stays small, quiet and creepy as the team splits up (ahem, naturally) to investigate several houses at once. There is some supremely unsettling imagery assaulting the viewer here. I was beginning to feel that the first two acts were a little light on scares, but it makes up for it in the home stretch. Proceed with caution if you have still carry a phobia of creatures under the bed or in closets.
Terrified is a Shudder exclusive, so if you have that service I recommend adding this to your list post haste.