Terrified, originally titled Aterrados, is a 2017 Spanish language Argentinian production. I had to watch it twice to really understand what the hell happened in this film. But I’m glad I did because the first viewing was painful at times.
The story is not complex but the direction is quite confusing. On the first watch you don’t know what’s real, who’s crazy, or who survives – or why. There is are a few throwaway lines that attempt an explanation but in the end there really is none.
At first this movie seem more like a series of events than a narrative or cohesive story. The cast of characters is relatively small but still managed to confuse me. Half the time you don’t know who anyone is, even when they are mentioned by name. You also don’t know where you are, as there are several distinct locations in close proximity to keep track of.
And don’t ask me to tell you want time frame a scene is in. There are flashbacks, flash forwards, and a past tense framing all in one. So, spoiler alert, nothing is in the present except the very end.
The subtitles in the copy I watched were often sketchy, and at times absent all together. It may only be a few missing lines, but when combined with several poorly translated words you can only assume other words have been misrepresented as well. Potentially significantly changing the understanding of the story or characters.
The CGI and special effects are atrocious in parts, but the practicals are mostly passable if not impressive. The film does manage to pull off a few effective jump scares, and for that I give it credit. Unfortunately, much of the non-diegetic music is incredibly loud and overbearing, paradoxically sucking the life out of scary scenes.
Terrified is much better and more cohesive the second time around. The connections are clearer, the people and locations are identifiable, and loose ends are wrapped up – well, better at least. You may not get your bearings until the followup viewing, so give this film two chances.
With an IMDB score of 6.5/10 and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer of 82% and Audience Score of 71%, I give Terrified/Aterrados a 7.2/10.