The Appeared (Aparecidos)
The Appeared, or Aparecidos, is a film which at first seems to be a straight horror, however it soon reveals itself as a supernatural horror and then as something much different, a film which uses the accessible horror genre to highlight the story of the disappeared in Argentina.
Primarily the film is about a brother and sister who head back to their home town in order to sign papers to turn off the life support machines for their Father who is near death. The daughter doesn't get on with him at all, but the son has fond memories of a past together and wants to relive them by making one last trip home before they say goodbye to their father.
They head back to their childhood home in their father's old car, and on the trip the son sees a little girl struggling to get something out of the back wheel arch. He goes to help and when he lifts his head she's gone, meanwhile he finds an old diary stuck inside the bodywork. The diary tells of the murder of a number of people, carrying photos and descriptions, and without much thought they head off to the hotel described in the diary.
From there the supernatural world and theirs become entangled and their lives are put in danger.
The film starts off very strongly with a flash forward to a scene in a manic emergency room as the brother is wheeled in on a stretcher, covered in blood and in a critical condition. Suddenly the distraught sister screams about how someone is going to kill him and grabs a fire extinguisher from the wall, swinging it wildly and descending into hysteria.
That's when the film cuts back to the start of the story where the two enter the hospital to confront their dying father.
From the opening you get the feeling that this is going to be a good film, and it does have the feel of a supernatural thriller/horror. It carries stylish titles, a powerful attention grabbing opening, strong actors and a great instigating scene.
However as the film progresses this feeling definitely dissipates and I felt myself being distanced from it by the characters choices and actions. This was perhaps the single most problematic area of the film for me, and really spoiled it.
The two lead characters make some of the most bizarre and frustrating choices I've seen in a film for some time. I was honestly feeling as though I wanted to shout at the screen and that really did take me right out of the film.
They make bad decision after bizarre decision within just a few scenes. At one point they even start joking about what happens in bad horror films, but still the make some incredibly stupid choices and go off and do daft things. I was Honestly shaking my head in confusion a number of times at what these characters had decided to do, and at certain points in the film it really didn't make any sense at all.
Thankfully these daft moments are confined to the first section of the film, thestraight horror section, that's followed by a slight turn to a more supernatural horror that feels very much like the excellent Sigaw. After this change it feels as though the crazy choices are done with and we enter a pretty stock horror around a really interesting story idea.
The horror side of the story delivers little more than a few decent scares and shocks but doesn't really portray anything new or any real surprises. Most of the time I found that the surprises of the story were straightforward and pretty visible from the beginning.
The final section of the film takes us into what the story is really about, the disappeared, and here it takes on a different feel altogether. It seems as though the rest of the film has just been a vehicle to get us to this point and to deliver a message to the audience. Of course most films are like this, but usually the message is more hidden and wrapped up within the story.
You know for the flaws I've pointed out I do like the story and how the script played out. It does feel a little broken into these three stages and some of it does feel stock while other parts feel rather daft, but looking at the overall story and how it connects in the end I really do like it, I just wish it had been better brought to the screen.
The Appeared is well filmed and has a nice style to it, particularly the filming of the night scenes and the portrayal of the supernatural element. This does deliver something a little different and a little off the path that the rest of the film treads. In fact it's through the style of the filming that we do get any fright and atmosphere.
From the beginning we see some strong performances. It was the doctor who first caught my eye with his subtle performance showing the pain he's feeling at his dying friend. Although he represses the feelings as he speaks you can see the hint of it in his eyes and the slight breaking of his voice. I really liked that short moment.
The male lead of Pablo, played by Javier Pereira, is good too, his energetic performance manages to take you through the incredibly dumb choices of his character, but it's Maria, played by Ruth Díaz, who delivers the strongest and most emotional performance. She really convinced me of her range of emotions from the deep rooted anger for her father to the complete fear she shows when she's chained to the bath.
This was a real hit and miss film for me, I did think that this was going to offer a lot, and the performances and the story all sounded like an exciting and intriguing film, yet the poor character choices in the first half really pushed me away from it and from there I struggled to get drawn back in.
Release Dates: Currently none.
Search for The Appeared on Filmstalker stores
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page
UK IMDB Film Details