October is a month with a lot of things going for it, a blissful release from the stranglehold of humidity, the fact it is the Spooky Season, and it’s part of Hispanic Heritage Month. We at the library are going to combine the last of those with a list of some truly spine-tingling horror movies by Latin American directors. All titles recommended to you are available at HCPL for checkout or streaming.
Some directors, we know so well, they need little recommendation, otherwise we would spend all our time going through Guillermo Del Toro’s catalog, or reminding you that Robert Rodriquez’s From Dusk Till Dawn is a cult classic. So we’re going to highlight some names you might not have heard of instead. Their work will leave you on the edge of your seat, just as much.
The Wolf House, or La casa lobo by Chilean directors Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña
The Wolf House is a stop-motion animated horror that disturbs and enthralls. Our main character is Maria, a young woman who escapes a cult heavily insinuated to be the actual cult, Colonia Dignidad. She finds an abandoned cabin and tries to make her home there, all the while a wolf, the cult leader, surrounds her, telling her she must come back. It’s stomach churning, it’s claustrophobic. It’s worth your time, especially if you are a fan of adult animation
Tigers Are Not Afraid, or Vuelven by Issa López
Not only did fellow Mexican director Guillermo del Toro endorse this film, so did Neil Gaiman and Stephen King—all of whom certainly know how to spin an enchantingly, scary tale about kids. López’s story takes place in a city ravaged by the cartels. The main characters are mostly children who have been orphaned by the violence. Our star is Estrella, a girl who is haunted by what may or may not be her disappeared mother and has three wishes at her disposal. Magical, grim, and hopeful, this one is worth checking out.
If fantasy horror is your speed, then we also recommend Brazilian director Rojas’ Good Manners. Clara, our quiet protagonist, is hired by wealthy, pregnant Ana, to be her housekeeper and future nanny. Their relationship deepens beyond that of boss and employee, so even when Ana exhibits signs of sleepwalking and a desire for blood, Clara sticks with her. Then Ana’s son is born. He is a werewolf. We told you it was fantasy.
Extremely well received in its home country of Venezuela, The House at the End of Time is about a haunted house. In 1981, Dulce was accused and convicted of murdering her family. Thirty years later, she is released early—under the condition she serve the remainder of her sentence under house arrest, in the very same house where her family was murdered. Only a local priest believes in her innocence. Together, they try to discover the truth of what happened to Dulce’s children and husband. Meanwhile, the house is at work again.
Uruguayan director Rodrigo Plá manages to capture the real-life terror of doing everything you can to help a loved one while knowing the people with the power to ease their pain are content to let them suffer. Sonia’s husband is terminally ill, but not beyond treatment. Their insurance company, however, refuses to approve it. After desperate efforts to work with the company result in being ignored, she snaps. Her husband’s situation is life or death, and it seems Sonia will make it life or death for as many people as it takes to help him. If the fact that most of us could easily see ourselves in Sonia’s predicament doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.
La Llorona by Jayro Bustamante
Jayro Bustamante explores a dark chapter in his country's history by intertwining his tale with a familiar, sad, and gruesome legend. Following the mass atrocities carried out against its Mayan citizens, the new Guatemalan government has put Enrique Monteverde on trial years later. As a general, Monteverde oversaw the genocide, but when his guilty verdict is overturned, he appears to have gotten away with it. Only, in his home, he begins to hear the wailing of a woman...