Review: Kurusu Serapio (2016)
Horror films like The Last Exorcism (2010) and Kill List (2011), not to mention The Blair Witch Project (1999), thrilled audiences with their stripped-down scares and escalating tension. Though all three of these movies are worth watching from the very start, the pay-off in each comes at the end--quite literally in the final seconds. In The Blair Witch Project, Heather runs frantically down the stairs to find Mike with his back to her, staring at the wall; in The Last Exorcism and Kill List, the climax plunges both protagonists into cults of evil and devil worship. I was reminded of these three films, and their horrific resolutions, after viewing director Marcos Codas' outstanding short film, Kurusu Serapio, a tale of Paraguayan witchcraft that effectively combines found footage with traditional narrative filming to create a truly eerie and disturbing picture.
Kurusu Serapio follows the story of a young man named Chris who becomes alienated from his two friends after the break-up of a romantic relationship. While evidence exists that some kind of bizarre witchcraft has taken place, the two friends make a terrifying discovery that reveals the true darkness of Codas' smart script. A crackling fire, a young man tied up with rope, a hooded figure, and a sinister woman watching from the dark wood--these are just a few of the images that haunt the film's final seconds. But if you have the fortunate opportunity to view Kurusu Serapio, make sure you continue watching as the end credits begin to roll. Codas adds a few finishing touches that add a surprising twist or two to the story, demanding that audiences watch the film again in order to put the pieces together. In addition, the movie employs a unique narrative "countdown" technique that shows the escalation of the evil in the story and amplifies the suspense with each passing day.
Kurusu Serapio features strong performances by its young leads, including Christian Cuadra, Alexis Amarilla, Leila Benitez, and Camila Sigaud. Jorge Samson Blaires' fast-paced cinematography handles the found-footage treatment very well while still managing to capture a number of disturbing images that linger in the mind long after the film has finished. Florence Duarte's sound design is equally effective and at times downright scary, punctuated by some hypnotic editing techniques that pack a punch in just over six minutes. You can watch the teaser trailer to this excellent film here.
To learn more about Marcos Codas' Kurusu Serapio, please visit the film's website, which is still under construction, here.