The Appeared

The Appeared


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the tradition of modern ghost stories, Apprecidos suffers a credibility moment that switches off its fear support machine at the moment of ultimate terror. The concept of parallel worlds is a fascinating one from a storyteller’s POV, but there are rules. Break them and you lose contact with Earth.

The title is a clever play on a word. During the worst years of Argentina’s military rule, The Disappeared was the name given to those who were taken, tortured and murdered by the regime. Also, The Appeared suggests something like “the demons” from Jacob’s Ladder, dead people in a living world.

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Malena (Ruth Diaz) and Pablo (Javier Pereira) are siblings, although strikingly different – she intense and neurotic, he easy going and compassionate – who have come to Argentina from Spain, where they have lived most of their lives, to make a decision about their father, whom they don’t know, or remember. He lies in a coma, apparently brain dead, and his estranged children must decide on whether to pull the plug on him, or not. Also, there is the question of the will, if they can find it.

They take his car and on a whim (Pablo’s) decide to drive to Tierra del Fuego because of a faded photograph, showing their parents with the baby Malena outside a house in the country. During the journey they discover a diary, with incriminating Polaroids, strapped under a mudguard, that describes, day by day, the horrific treatment of a pregnant woman and her 12-year-old daughter. When incidents that mirror the diary start happening in real life and their car is followed and rammed by a menacing pick-up truck, as in Jeepers Creepers, the script’s complexities implode.

The film is made with commitment, even passion, and the terror tactics are effective until the plot loses itself in a miasmic mist of incomprehension, in which people from 30 years ago communicate with Malena and Pablo as if time has no relevance. Writer/director Paco Cabezas uses every effect, special or otherwise, to make this work and, despite emotionally demanding performances of a high quality, cannot straighten the twisted storyline enough to make sense of it.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2008
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Siblings are terrified by tortured ghosts and a brain dead father's legacy in Argentina.

Director: Paco Cabezas

Writer: Paco Cabezas

Starring: Ruth Díaz, Javier Pereira, Pablo Cedron, Leonora Balcarce, Luciano Caceres, Hector Bidonde, Isabela Ritto, Damasco Conde

Year: 2007

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Spain/Argentina/Sweden


EIFF 2008
Viva 2009

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