A lot of folks are getting excited about Halloween Kills. Hell, there’s really nothing but hype for the continuing saga of a geriatric homicidal maniac obsessed with murdering his aging sister. But I can promise you, for all the gore, violence, tension and even controversy surrounding this film, it will not hold a candle to one of the most frightening movies of the last five years still streaming on Shudder. Aterrados, Terrified in English, is possibly the most terrifying ghost story I’ve seen in years. Released in 2017 and airing as a Shudder exclusive, this Argentinian horror film has the distinction of truly being one of the more disturbing horror films I’ve seen. With disturbing imagery, concepts, and storytelling that truly horrifies, the movie is a slow burn to start but quickly comes screaming off the rails.

Terrified follows police Captain Funes and a group of paranormal researchers investigating a series of unusual tragedies in a small Argentinian neighborhood. The death of a young boy. The vanishing of a paranoid man. The gruesome murder and disappearance of a woman. In the period of a few weeks this quaint street becomes the scene of one bloody nightmare after another. And things are only getting worse. Viewers see the events in question in a more Tarantino-esque narrative style to start with as we watch the violent death of Mrs. Blumetti in her shower. We jump then to Mr. Blumetti in the mental institution where he is being held. He is speaking to Jano, the leader of the paranormal research team looking into his wife’s death and disappearance and how it might connect to a similar event in the 90’s in America. A terrifying picture is slowly being painted before jumping to the next victim of this disturbance that we see on screen.

Walter is making repairs to his home and struggling to find sleep. He’s hallucinating that someone is in his home and soon sets up a video camera to capture the perpetrator in the act. But when an inhumanly tall, frail creature climbs out from under his bed, hovers over the sleeping Walter, and disappears into his wardrobe, the man is rightly terrified. He begins fortifying his home, sealing off every possible entrance and exit to make sure he can catch whoever this nocturnal specter is. Is he going mad? Is there something in the water? Is there something more sinister at work?

As Walter is walling himself up inside what will ultimately become his tomb, he shouts a warning at a neighbor’s young son to stay away from the house and to not drink the water. He’s trying to save the boy who, unfortunately, walks backwards out of the yard and into the path of a city bus. Losing a child is horrifying and traumatic. Hearing that child call to you from the coldness of the grave until you dig him up and bring him home is even worse.

Terrified weaves a profound tale of loss and grief into a gruesome, bloody ghost story full of both practical and digital effects that are truly haunting. The makeup effects, particularly on the zombie child and his mother are nothing short of nauseatingly real. The only element missing from some of these shots is the actual smell of decomposition and rot. There are also monsters, ghosts that are grotesque, horrifying, and unique in their design and their brutality.

The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, but you can find an English dub if reading during a movie is a deal breaker. And if a story with well-developed characters, a unique narrative structure, and some horrifying and wild special effects isn’t for you, there’s always Halloween Kills.

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