“The Monster Within,” a banner Latin American smart genre project that won a Sitges Fest Pitchbox competition, has now attracted further validation: European and North American co-production backing, and the attachment of Luis Tosar to play the main character.
Chilean Rodrigo Susarte’s awaited feature debut, “The Monster Within” will be produced by Chile’s Forastero, headed by Florencia Larrea and Gregorio Gonzalez.
Now also producing are Space Rocket Nation, the label of Lene Børglum and Nicolas Winding Refn; Tosar’s Spain-based ZircoZine; and Canada’s 1976 Productions, run by Nicolas Comeau.
Larrea, Gonzalez, Børglum, ZircoCine’s Farruco Castroman and Corneau serve as producers. Lucas Engel and Macarena Concha executive produce.
It is highly unusual for a Latin American genre movie to attract such large co-production interest from other countries. A “coming-of-age horror-thriller” taking place in the spectacular forests of Chile’s southern Bio Bio region, Larrea said, “The Monster Within” has Tosar playing a police captain, Juan, dispatched to the south of Chile along with his teen daughter, to investigate recent terrorist attacks. The attacks seem linked to a coven of local warlocks in need of a specific human sacrifice.
Upon arrival, he’ll find an isolated town secretly ruled by a coven of warlocks in need of a specific human sacrifice. Juan’s daughter seems to be what they’ve been waiting for, the synopsis runs. Chilean-Spanish actress Maria Luisa Mayol plays a mysterious coroner, Jimena.
Popular on Variety
“Juan comes from a city. In the Western World, we’ve lost a sense of contact with the earth, nature, beliefs. It’s his daughter who has to serve almost as an interpreter opening him up to a far more spiritual and profound world,” said Tosar.
In a grand tradition of Spanish-language auteur genre – think Del Toro’s own “Pan’s Labyrinth” – “The Monster Within” enrolls fantasy to talk about bedrock emotional bonds, here a daughter’s desire for a sense of her place in the world and a father-daughter relationship.
Based on Chilean myths, “The Monster Within” creates a “fictional story that engages with one of the most universal and intergenerational issues People’s limits and motivations when they’re able to perceive humanity’s darkest aspects, the result of fear, loneliness, guilt and isolation,” Larrea said.
She added that film reinterprets a Chilean myth through a mythological creature called the Invunche as a metaphor for a human being’s psychological state when their fears, guilt and paranoia consume them.
“I’m highly interested in indigenous myth, and like movies which use genre beats, sometimes near pure horror, but mix them with thriller elements, creating a strange, stylized ambience,” Tosar said.
Notably, this elevated genre project also has a female screenwriter, Chile’s Valeria Hofmann. Selected for the 2017 Berlinale Co-production Market and Sanfic Lab 2017, the film weighs in as a potential highlight at Saturday’s Frontières Forum 2018, a packaging forum in Cannes created by the Fantasia Festival, a genre movie fest, and the Cannes Film Market.
Filming begins in March 2019.