In order to really connect to the characters and themes presented in The Appeared (a 2009 Spanish/Argentinian supernatural Horror movie) it helps to have a basic understanding of Argentina’s Dirty War: A period of state terrorism with military and security forces conducting urban and rural guerrilla violence against left-wing guerrillas, political dissidents, and anyone believed to be associated with socialism.
Under the military dictatorship of Reynaldo Bignone, the number of people believed to have been killed or “disappeared,” depending on the source, range from 9,089 to 30,000 between 1976 and 1983. The Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (Spanish: Alianza Anticomunista Argentina, usually known as Triple A or AAA) was a right wing death-squad that used rape and torture, along with “annihilation decrees”, to control the population and advance the government’s military agenda.
In the tradition of Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, director Paco Cabezas draws on a period of historical darkness to tell a ghost story steeped in politics, justice, and retribution.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: Two siblings travel to Argentina to investigate their past, but what appears to be an intimate drama of reconciliation with family ghosts soon takes a turn towards terror. They find a diary that speaks of a series of appalling crimes committed twenty years earlier. With this discovery the past is dug up. One day later, a family is murdered exactly as outlined in the manuscript.
In The Appeared (aka Aparecidos), Melena and her brother Pablo travel to Buenos Aries to deal with the impending death of their father, a man they have both been estranged from since childhood. In addition to end of life decisions, the pair must come to terms unanswered questions regarding their relationships and family. The diary mentioned in the synopsis is discovered on what should have been a fun road trip to their childhood home for closure. It was written by a physician who was a member of the AAA. Since it was found in the wheel-well of their Father’s car, and since he was a physician, they have no choice but assume it’s his. At this point, family drama collides with historical Horror as past atrocities manifest themselves in the present—with terrifying results.
Shall the sins of the fathers be visited upon the sons and daughters? According to The Appeared, the answer is: Yes, most definitely. Our responsibility to the dead, their memory, extends beyond the immediate generation—and forgetting them is an indignant disservice. We live with the ghosts of our ancestors and their actions. And while those who died by atrocities can never be saved, their restless spirits can be soothed. It’s an arduous and difficult process. Melena and Pablo battle with ghosts as they look for answers to a devastatingly personal mystery.
Sure there are plot holes (like a phantom pick-up truck) but just about all ghost stories have some. And The Appeared is less about ghosts than it is about the relationships between the living and the dead. That doesn’t mean that the Horror is merely implied or intellectualized; there’s blood, scares, and unflinching torture. But the point isn’t to punish us, rather the shocks and suspense are designed to stir our souls.
While The Appeared is about one family’s quest, the film’s haunting conclusion reminds us that this was far from an isolated event. Indeed, the wounds of the Dirty War, while over 20 years old, still feel fresh to many.
The Appeared presents a somewhat fantastic window into one family’s relationship with death and past atrocities, as well as the shared traumas of an entire population. It drags a bit, but it is a thoroughly moving experience throughout. This film will appeal to Horror fans, history buffs, and aficionados of magical realism. The Appeared is a blend fact and fiction that ultimately revels many universal truths. As is often the case, the scariest monsters are human—and the terror is real.
3 out of 5 Skull Heads.
Trailer: HERE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n39WahRDm5s