The Appeared (Aparecidos) Review

When people say there isn't much originality left in the movies, they aren't talking about movies like the Spanish thriller The Appeared ( or Aparacidos), the first feature of Pablo Cabezas. Set in roughly present-day Argentina, it follows two siblings, Pablo (Javier Pererira) and Malena (Ruth Diaz) as they travel to see their dying father. Along the way, they encounter some spooky happenings, and learn about a series of brutal crimes and murders that took place 20 years prior.

Enter what makes the film unique. The Appeared presents the rare combination of horror and history, the history being that of the Argentinian “dirty war.” For those unfamiliar (like me, prior to a little research), the term refers to the military-sponsored attacks on and crimes by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, against liberals in Argentina during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Those who were targeted were rarely if ever recovered, and are known as the “disappeared.”

Pablo and Malena find themselves in the middle of a piece of the past created by this war. They're visited by the ghosts of several victims, “disappeareds” from 1980. Pablo finds a diary crammed away above a back tire of his father’s car, one that details the torturing of numerous people. After checking into a hotel, Pablo and Malena hear the murder of a man in the next room and the abduction of his wife and child — a crime that happened two decades before. The siblings are compelled to help these people, though, as Pablo at one point ponders, “Isn’t it crazy to try to help a dead person?”

It is, so much that you begin to wonder, Why are they helping these ghosts? Won’t they still be just as dead by the end of this ordeal? They can’t bring them back to life — or can they?

The motivation behind their self-imposed obligation becomes clear by the end of the movie, part of which we see at the beginning, when Pablo is rushed into the hospital covered in blood, a good move on Cabezas’ part. After this initial glimpse of action, not a whole lot happens for the next 15 or so minutes except character establishment. We get a great sense of Pablo and Malena, and the actors embody the roles — the siblings are terrified, trapped in a nightmare they couldn’t help but get stuck in, and Pererira and Diaz bring that horror to life with great zeal; you can see it in their eyes, in the way they tremble and sob.

The visuals, though often graphic, are beautiful, in a raw, gritty way. The special effects, which could have bombed big time, have a slightly dreamy, surreal edge to them that works in the film’s favor. That said, they’re pretty basic — lots of green-screening and fake blood — showing that a less than enormous budget is no excuse for a shoddy product.

Overall, it’s worth a watch. The acting’s is spot-on, it’s got a fair amount blood and gore (for those of you who are into that), and, though it doesn’t always make complete sense, considering the premise, there aren’t nearly as many plot holes as there could be.

DVD Bonus Features

This disc includes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie, which includes interviews with the cast and crew — we get an extensive look into Cabezas dedication to and love for history and horror — and looks at the special effects techniques used.

"The Appeared (Aparecidos)" is on sale January 12, 2010 and is rated NR. Horror. Written and directed by Paco Cabezas. Starring Javier Pereira, Ruth Diaz, Leonora Balcarce, Pablo Cedron.

Jess Goodwin

Jess's favorite movie is You've Got Mail. She has a penchant for romantic comedies in general, as well as horror movies (specifically those about werewolves). Someday, she'll write a perfect hybrid of the two genres -- a horrom-com, if you will, and an Oscar-worthy masterpiece at that.


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