Latin American horror cinema is in a very special place right now, with new voices coming up more frequently, and more viscerally, than ever before. ComicCon@Home 2020’s panel “Latin American Horror Cinema 2: Sometimes They Come Back” is conclusive evidence of this, as viewers got to hear these new acolytes of terror talk about the trajectory of Latin horror and how they’re trying to leave their own bloody fingerprints on it.
Moderated by Sebastian Fink, the panel included Alejandro Brugués (director, Juan of the Dead), Issa López (director, Tigers Are Not Afraid), Demián Rugna (director, Terrified), Isaac Ezban (director, The Incident), Víctor Osuna (director, The Rules of Ruin), and Gigi Saul Guerrero (director, Culture Shock).
The panel is well worth the watch, so I won’t go deep into quotes and important moments so as not to spoil the conversation. I do think, however, that highlighting certain things the panel provides viewers with is a good way to bring more eyes into it. And believe me, the directors in this panel are the new faces of horror and they will change the genre both to their liking and our viewing pleasure.
For starters, this panel is a great way to get into some of the challenges of tracing the history of horror in Latin American cinema. The panels goes in depth on this, commenting on how Mexican horror, for instance, owes a lot to the lucha libre horror/fantasy movies made popular by legendary luchador El Santo and other smaller productions that left a mark. One thing they all agreed on, though, is that Latin American horror finally got the recognition it deserved thanks to Guillermo del Toro and his vision for the genre.
Before del Toro, mainstream horror largely came from folktales and true crime stories. As a Latino myself, I could definitely relate to this part of the discussion as violent crime in the Americas still tends to be presented in as macabre a way as possible while also being vague and mysterious given how the community in which the event occurred approaches the story. In Puerto Rico, for example, it’s not uncommon to hear “well, that’s what the news said, but a friend of the neighbors heard it was…,” and so the story gets a new version.
This isn’t to say there were absolutely no horror movies in Latin America before del Toro, but there are a lot of grey areas when it comes to the genre’s history in the Americas and what influenced it. This is something the panel offers great insight on.
The panel also gives viewers a good sense of what makes Latin horror so unique, so sinister even. Issa López’s Tigers are not Afraid and Demián Rugna’s Terrified are both supreme examples of this and any new project announcements from either one warrant attention as they’re take on the genre looks at things unique the Latin American experience. For López its the impact of narco activity on children while for Rugna it’s about the horrors we create in our own households (only those households contain their own unique superstitions). Both Tigers are not Afraid and Terrified are streaming on Shudder and come highly recommended.
The same drive to create uniquely Latin American horror, with science fiction elements as well is the case with Isaac Ezban, is present in all of the directors in the panel. They are in the process of crafting some genuinely fresh takes on the genre and already possess an impressive selection of short films that show a promising future in the business of fear.
“Latin American Horror Cinema 2” is a great panel and essential viewing for horror fans eager to be scared in completely different ways.
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