There’s a modern misconception that the art house horror subgenre was birthed in the 2010s with films like The Witch and The Babadook. However, Altered Innocence’s fantastic 4K restoration of 1979’s Arrebato (Rapture) is a prime example that horror films that confound and unnerve moreso than frighten have been around since the dawn of cinema.
The feature follows José (Eusebio Poncela), a horror movie director and drug addict who feels creatively unfulfilled. That all changes though when his ex-girlfriend, Ana (Cecilia Roth), and a strange super 8 film reel from forgotten acquaintance Pedro (Will More), show up at José’s doorstep. These mysterious artifacts from José’s past send him on a hallucinogenic trip into the alluring and destructive qualities of filming and being filmed.
The peculiar part of Arrebato though is how we the audience are not included in the characters’ drugged up perception of the world. José and Pedro burst into hysterics at the sight of a branch in the breeze on film, while the audience is left confused as to their extreme reactions of the seemingly ordinary.
Will More turns in a fantastic supporting role that captures manic addictive personality of Pedro. While we may not know what Pedro is experiencing, More’s emotive performance makes us believe in the strange and unknowable. Even so, Arrebato is a film that lacks the tension and suspense needed to truly make José’s experience unsettling. While there may be brief moments of spine-tingling anxiousness from More’s performance and the excellent score, Arrebato is not enrapturing as the title may lead you to believe.
The Silver Lining
Negativo’s chilling score for Arrebato is almost the sole contributor to the film’s eerie tone. At points, it’s clear that Negativo took inspiration from John Carpenter’s legendary synthesizer score from Halloween. The score almost feels like Halloween’s at times, played back on a warped and scratched record.
In the moments of the film where drug use becomes prevalent though, Negativo went all out. A simple piano melody is combined with the sounds of woodpeckers, ducks, and a whole host of other animals. The cacophony symbolizes the more primal forces at work as the characters fall under the influence and act out their sexual desires. After Altered Innocence did such a fantastic job restoring this cult classic film, hopefully they have time to release the remastered score on digital platforms (Spotify, Itunes) as well!
Arrebato is now playing at the Metrograph in NYC and will release on digital platforms later this year.