Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise — Demián Rugna

Rugna’s latest, ‘Terrified,’ bows in Mar del Plata’s Argentina Competition, then segues to Ventana Sur

A Profile of Argentine Fantasy Genre
Courtesy of Aura Films/Juan Pablo Chillon

MAR DEL PLATA — “Is there any way of stopping this?” police commissioner Funes asks paranormal expert Albreck as the body count and unearthly beings proliferate at three common-or-garden Argentine suburban chalets in Demián Rugna’s “Aterrados” (Terrified). “No,” answers Albreck, a venerable bluestocking, just before a twig-lick arm snaps out of a crack in a chalet wall aiming for her head.

Shot in widescreen, “Terrified,” which sales agent Aura Films will screen at Ventana Sur, marks a move towards the mainstream for Rugna, being made with the aim of scaring the hell out of audiences, he explained. “People just want to be scared these days,” he said. Yet “Terrified” still bears the hallmarks of the Rugna style: an art film refusal to show human-beings conquering the supernatural; a smorgasbord of fantastic sub-genres — from chiller to shockfest to cop investigation and gothic baroque — and a darkly-knowing humor that pushes the movie, in a very Argentine style, towards not only an unreliable narration but also a title that both inspires fear and is about fear as a phenomenon as well.

Penning Daniel de la Vega’s “Death Knows Your Name” in 2005, Rugna found early consecration with his directorial debut, the English-language “The Last Gateway,” voted one of the best 10 horror films of 2007 by U.S. website Buried.com. After a slew of awards for 2013’s “Malditos sean!” “Terrified” world premiered last month at Mexico’s Mórbido Fest, scooping the Mórbido-Cinépolis Distribución Prize, which guarantees a theatrical release in Mexico. It may well not be the film’s last plaudit.

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Aura Films