This Film Series Brings Scary Movies From Latin America to New York

Lead Photo: 'The Trace We Leave Behind' courtesy of J.C. Feyer
'The Trace We Leave Behind' courtesy of J.C. Feyer
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Here’s a film festival for those who don’t want to have to wait until October to start watching scary movies. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 11th edition of Scary Movies takes place in late August. And, as usual, they have a slew of global flicks that will no doubt make you lay awake at night wondering why you went by yourself to see that Zombie Christmas Party movie. Among this year’s program are three Latin American horror offerings that you won’t want to miss.

Proving that Brazilian horror is experiencing a resurgence — see Good Manners, for its latest example — here comes the feature debut by J.C. Feyer. Set in the kind of soon-to-be-abandoned hospital that haunts your dreams, The Trace We Leave Behind (O Rastro) follows João (Rafael Cardoso), a doctor who’s coordinating the removal of patients from a Rio de Janeiro public hospital — a result of the recession and a move very much fought by the community at large. Soon, a 10-year-old disappears and he volunteers to go find her. Of course, his foray into the hospital goes exactly as you’d expect, with inner demons, outer darkness, and haunting specters taking over the plot soon after. With its slate blue palette and creepy soundscape, Feyer’s socially conscious flick will dare you to come away unfazed.

Also using the genre to tackle contemporary local issues is Issa López‘s Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven). Tapping into the kind of fantasy horror realm of Guillermo del Toro’s filmography, this Mexican film follows 10-year-old Estrella (Paolo Lara), who lives in constant fear of the gang violence that riddles her town. After losing her mother she bands with a group of orphan kids who are also fleeing the murderous drug-dealing local thugs who are after Estrella. Still waiting for the fantasy reveal? As the trailer informs us, the world of make-believe is the only way these kids survive this reality and so Estrella and her boys find themselves seeing (or imagining?) truly fantastical feats — like stuffed tigers who move, magical creatures that help them — as a defense mechanism for the darkness around them. A grittier Pan’s Labyrinth set in the world of Mexico’s gang violence, Tigers Are Not Afraid looks timely and timeless as ever.

But the Latin American scares don’t stop there. Uruguayan-born, Chile-based filmmaker Guillermo Amoedo has made a name for himself working on screenplays for Eli Roth projects (The Green Inferno, Knock Knock, Aftershock). But with The Inhabitant (El habitante) he’s merged two of the genre’s most overdone scenarios (the home-invasion-gone-wrong and the child possession tale) into a wholly different kind of beast. When three girls try to rob the house of a high-profile, and highly corrupt, senator, the secret that lays in its basement will be too much for any of them to bear. Giving us The Exorcist vibes and truly steeped in Catholic iconography — with plenty of squeaky doors and creepy girlish giggles punctuating its silences — The Inhabitant turns age-old plots on its head.

Scary Movies XI runs August 17 – 23, 2018.