The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the lineup for Scary Movies XI, the eagerly anticipated return of New York’s top horror festival, which includes a trio of creepy Latin American offerings featuring possessions in Guillermo Amoedo’s The Inhabitant / El habitante, dark fairy tales in Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid / Vuelven, and haunted hospitals in J.C. Feyer’s The Trace We Leave Behind / O Rastro.
The Mexican-Chilean coproduction The Inhabitant by Uruguayan-born, Chile-based filmmaker Amoedo, who has made a name for himself working on screenplays for Eli Roth projects (The Green Inferno, Knock Knock, Aftershock), will be having its North American premiere in the horror film festival. The film follows three sisters who in an attempt to secure some quick cash, break into the home of a super-wealthy family—and get a whole lot more than they bargained for. With serious political undertones—the house the women target belongs to a high-profile, and highly corrupt, senator—its action opens up to also make room for a child possession tale like no other.
López's Mexican film Tigers Are Not Afraid / Vuelven tells the story of 10-year-old Estrella who is left to her own devices after her mom disappears in the midst of a world plagued by gang violence. As a protection measure—or is it a stroke of the supernatural?—Estrella believes to have been granted three wishes, and she uses one to bring her mother back, though failing to mention that she wanted her alive. Haunted by the dead shell of her mother, she leaves home and ends up taking up camp with a group of local orphan boys in their small Mexican village, nervously trying to remain hidden from murderous drug-dealing local thugs and forming a strong familial bond in the process.
A fantastical tale that is also steeped in hard-bitten realities, writer-director Issa López’s alternately heart-wrenching and chilling film inevitably elicits Guillermo del Toro comparisons, mostly for its ability to extract wholly believable performances from its young cast, but stands firmly on its own as inspired cinema.
Rounding up the Latin American The Trace We Leave Behind, which follows João, a doctor coordinating the removal of patients from a Rio de Janeiro public hospital that, despite harsh protests from the community, is scheduled to close due to Brazil’s recession. On the night of the transfer, a 10-year-old girl disappears without a trace and João must find her, even if just to prove to his pregnant wife Leila that he can be a dependable father. The more he searches, the deeper he is drawn into a world he wishes he never entered. Long-kept secrets are unearthed and João struggles against the darkness that is closing in around him. Is the hospital haunted? Is he losing his mind?
The feature debut by Feyer—a strong case for the resurgence of Brazilian horror—is relentless in both its dedication to scaring the pants off the audience and to shining a light on the country’s social unrest.
The 11th edition of Scary Movies, bringing the genre’s best from around the globe for a wicked week of hair-raising premieres and rediscoveries, guest appearances and giveaways, will take place August 17 - 23 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City.