TFF2015 | SCHERZO DIABOLICO, “a screenplay as airtight as a Hitchcock thriller”

Adrián García Bogliano’s SCHERZO DIABOLICO can best be described as a near-perfect engine of human cruelty. Any other attempt to qualify it within the terms of established genre traditions are futile. Is it an abduction procedural? A psychological character study of a criminal à la John McNaughton’s HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986)? A female revenge thriller? SCHERZO DIABOLICO is all three and none of them. Its brilliance is how it subverts genre conventions to keep the audience unnerved, confused, and incapable of guessing what will happen next.

The main storyline involves Aram (Francisco Barreiro), an unhappy accountant who kidnaps and tortures a high school girl named Anabela (Daniela Soto Vell) as a means to vent his frustrations towards his job and his failing marriage. But this storyline resolves itself completely about an hour into the film. We are even treated to a musical montage where all of the plot threads are woven together and concluded. And that is where the film shifts gears and becomes truly unpredictable. Allow me that classic cliché of refusing to further elaborate on the plot for fear of ruining it for future viewers. It honestly is warranted on this occasion.

Catch the last screening of SCHERZO DIABOLICO at 11:30p on Saturday 4/25 at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea. Visit the Tribeca site for more detail

SCHERZO DIABOLICO’s greatest strength is its screenplay, a compliment I almost never give horror films. It is as airtight as a Hitchcock thriller: there isn’t a wasted shot, character, line, or prop. And like a Hitchcock thriller, it understands that true terror is found in the anticipation of violence and the horrific. That’s not to say that the film isn’t violent. In fact, it is as graphic and unapologetically gory as anything in the New French Extremity. But unlike many of its French compatriots, SCHERZO DIABOLICO earns the gore because it doesn’t treat it as a means to an end. When the blood and guts begin to spill, it almost comes as a relief.

SCHERZO DIABOLICO premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

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