top of page

The Rise of Terror in Brazil

in 20th Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival

by Luciana Costa

Before I became a movie critic, I was a cinephile. Since I was a little girl, my favorite genre was horror. Scary movies have always been my passion. There are many subsets such as ghost stories, psychological horrors, slashers, thrillers. As a movie critic, I have always been disappointed that this great genre has never had much space in the industry.


It happens worldwide, but in my country it is even worse. Of course we have a few titles of our own but it has always suffered some prejudice by the critics and even the public. When a great Brazilian horror movie is released in my country, especially in Rio de Janeiro, it doesn't stay long at the movie theaters. That’s terrible for our country, for our culture, for the fans, and of course, its producers.


Gladly, Festival do Rio [Rio de Janeiro Int'l Film Festival] is slowly changing that scenery. Last year, our country was gracefully introduced to the movie “Good Maners” (As Boas Maneiras). Although it’s not just a horror movie it has a big part of this genre, being classified as Fantasy, Horror and Musical. Not only did the public fell in love with the story told by the directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, but also the critics. In 2017 "Good Maners" won the Fipresci prize at Festival do Rio by unanimity of the jury members. What a great start towards change. It is very important to encourage the writers, directors and producers of this genre in order for them to keep going with the good work. 


This year we were graced by other great titles of this genre at the festival. We had “The Father’s Shadow” (A Sombra do Pai) which is a psychological terror mixed with drama and horror elements. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the surprise and the plot twist. But, I can say that its director Gabriela Amaral, once again, got the job done. She is also known for “Friendly Beast” (Animal Cordial) and “When I was Alive” (Quando Eu Era Vivo), also titles of the genre. 


Another great horror movie we had, my personal favorite, was “The Nightshifter” (Morto Não Fala).  The director Dennison Ramalho, was also the co-writer. Before this movie, he was known for co-writing “Embodiment of Evil” (Encarnação do Demônio), a movie from Zé do Caixão, that for many years has been one of the only representats of the genre, dividing opinions. Some people love Zé do Caixão's movies and some people hate it. 


“The Nightshifter” has mystery, it is scary, it has drama and it is amazing. I doubt very much that you’ll be able to watch it and don’t pay full attention to it. In the cast we have famous brazilian actors, such as Daniel Oliveira, Fabiola Nascimento, Bianca Comparato and Marco Ricca. It was very smart, by the way, to cast them. Who knows, maybe fans of the actors will go see it and might end up loving it like I did. It has even a little bit of intended comedy. After biting our nails through almost all of the movie, it is great to have a little laugh as an ice breaker. 


In my country we’re facing a terrible moment. Families and friendships are being broken because of political opinions. Some of us are really concerned about our rights and our future; it’s a very complicated moment for us. I don’t know about you, but horror movies have always helped me through difficult times. They make me 100% focused at the screen when they are well executed. Because of that, I have about two hours of my life to forget about my own personal problems. So it’s really important that great scary stories are coming to help us through these rough times.

bottom of page