October 9, 2017 – If all goes well, what I write below (plus some sort of introduction and minus the more spoilery parts) I’ll submit in a sound file to Gary Hill of Legion Podcasts, who has requested short horror reviews for his October 2017 project. Check out Cinema Beef Podcast and all of the great podcasts on the Legion network which have been keeping me sane in tough times.
I was excited to watch 2016’s No Estamos Solos (directed by Daniel Rodriguez) on Netflix, released as We Are Not Alone. It is a Peruvian horror movie, something I have never seen. I may dedicate next year’s 31 Days of Halloween to covering international horror.
Additionally, it’s a possession and exorcism film, and when such a thing comes my way I’m honor bound to watch it all the way through no matter how awful, boring or unoriginal it is.
Imdb.com summarizes the film’s plot as follows: “A family moves to a new house and unleashes terrifying paranormal events that become increasingly violent and disturbing, until a priest comes to their aid, with unforeseen consequences.” But this summary misses an important detail: this is a widower, Mateo (Marco Zunino) with his 10 year old daughter Sofia (Zoe Arevalo) and his girlfriend, Monica (Fiorella Diaz). The tension between young Sofia (who resents the new mother figure) and Monica, informs the movie.
We Are Not Alone is for sure derivative of the recent trend in Hollywood haunted house/evil spirit films. It is highly influenced by The Conjuring with touches of Insidious and more blatantly, The Exorcist. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s nice looking, well paced and well acted (it also needs to be said that actress Fiorella Diaz is beautiful.) And the beginning is certainly original: the erstwhile family sits on their couch, watching a wonderful black and white exorcism movie that looks like either a Universal monster movie or a German Expressionist film. I don’t think this exorcism-movie-within-an-exorcism-movie exists in our world, but it should. If anyone can confirm otherwise, please let me know.
Now, entering into both spoiler and think-piece territory, We Are Not Alone shares more than just scenes and plot with The Conjuring. Exorcism/possession movies can typically fall into two tropes: occult-shaming and failed nuclear family shaming. I think the latter might be me stretching it a little. Is Monica being punished for being unmarried and “insinuating” herself into this family? Wasn’t Burke Dennings punished for similar?
As for the former, the plot I quoted mentions a priest, Padre Rafael (Lucho Cáceres) and it turns out that his father was an occultist (a ‘mistico’.) Dad was able to contain the evil spirit with an occult working but only the priest son can get effectively get rid of it. Add to that Sofia’s gushing paean to priests immediately following the exorcism movie the family watched, and the abortion comment in the exorcism scene, and are looking perhaps at a reinforcement of Catholicism’s dominance in the culture.
The movie’s credits include an ‘Asesor de Temas Paranormales’ (Felix Rivera.) Where do I get that job?