“Silencio” is a Mexican-made thriller (partially in English) based on true events. The true events are the setting of the Zone of Silence in Mexico, an area that was accidentally nuked by the U.S. and has numerous conspiracy theories and dark rumors surrounding it. Basically, it is akin to the Bermuda Triangle. In this film, a magical stone is found there that has the ability to alter time and past events. You can go back to any specific event and change one thing that happens. The catch is that you can’t change anything else and that whatever you do change will impact the world in unforeseeable ways. Basically, this fascinating premise is attached to a multigenerational family thriller and a deadly hit-and-run. While some critics are upset that this premise was used for a family thriller, I think anchoring the premise to a tense family drama is an interesting choice that works well. Indeed, I was on the edge of my sea t for much of “Silencio” because I honestly didn’t know how it was going to turn out.
“Suspiria” is a remake of the classic 1977 thriller by Dario Argento. It takes place in Berlin 1977, where the world is a dark and evil place. While catastrophic real-world events are playing out, the smaller but much scarier conflict is going on at the local dance school. The school is in fact run by and populated by witches who use the school to give new meaning to the term “killer dance moves.” After the school’s top dancer (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) has a nervous breakdown and becomes expendable, a replacement dancer (Dakota Johnson) is brought in who is inexperienced but brilliantly talented. Through her, the head-mistresses (both played by Tilda Swinton) hope to spread Wicca and conquer Berlin. The only thing standing in their way is a very strange elderly psychiatrist who is investigating claims of witchcraft. Will he succeed in vanquishing evil or will the demonic, sexually outrageous coven conquer all?
If you’re a fan of Argento’s classic grindhouse film, this remake is a must-see. It’s a little hard to follow and perhaps overly feminist but it has the terrifying lucidity of a real nightmare. It has a cameo by Jessica Harper, star of the original. With excellent cinematography and a score by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, this movie can both withstand comparisons to the original and stand on its own two feet. Guaranteed to freak out all but the most seasoned horror movie fan, this is the rare bloody horror film that is critically respected yet also good for gorehounds. It’s an American film directed by an Italian (“Call Me by Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino) that is partially in German. At 151 minutes, it is one of the longest exploitation films ever made.
“Silencio” and “Suspiria” are both in limited release right now. If you’re looking for foreign thrills, run (don’t walk!) and check them out.