An empty bath tub, the sun’s reflection in a rippling pool of water, a woman bleeding from her ear: these are just some of the powerful, symbolically charged images found in trailer for the Brazilian feature Clarisse ou alguma coisa sobre nós dois (Clarisse or Something About Us), from director Petrus Cariry. Narratively, little can be gathered from this collection of still life shots and short vignettes, but an unmistakable sense of dread permeates this otherwise obscure, minute-long teaser. Perhaps it’s the unrelenting sound of a shrieking pig that accompanies each tableaux, underscored by a disquieting low frequency rumble, or maybe it’s the film’s impeccable atmospheric, high-contrast lighting.
It’s all so effective that even the sight of what seems to be a woman planking in an open field loses it’s otherwise laughable connotations and becomes a thing of inexplicable terror. Well, actually, it’s still kind of funny, but in a very terrifying way. And yet judging from these images, you would never guess that the Clarisse is about a woman who visits her ailing father in his country home outside of Fortaleza, only to confront years of pent-up bitterness surrounding the death of her mother and infant brother. Somehow Cariry managed to package all of this in a beautiful and deeply unsettling feature whose trailer seems like a cross between Psycho and Rosemary’s Baby.
It’s an original conceit that seems to have been executed with great aplomb, bringing Brazilian cinema into the realm of psychological horror mastered in generations past by greats like Hitchcock and Polansky. Clarisse premiered in Brazil last October as part of the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival where it was nominated for a New Trends award.