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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Carnal Sins ****

Starring: Nicolás Diaz, María Soldi, Cali Coronel, Martina Grimaldi

Director: Juan Sebastián Torales

Country: Argentina

UK Release: TLA Releasing

When teenage Nino (Diaz) becomes the victim of savage homophobic attacks in the city, his family relocate to the countryside. Trying to start again, they want the boy to repress his sexuality by seeking confirmation in the Church. But instead he hears rumours of a creature living in the forest called the Almamula, who takes sinners that live a carnal life. And while these stories are clearly intended to scare him, Nino increasingly finds himself drawn to this mysterious dark figure.

Considering that this all plays out in the beaming sunshine of the height of summer, this is a remarkably atmospheric film. Playing with repressive sound design and extreme close-up, the film’s seething tension comes from its earnestly considered composition. This is a director who knows the power of the unseen and while this isn’t a traditional horror, all the elements of a good monster movie are here in abundance.

Centred on the teenager’s inner turmoil, we see him pulled back and forth between the path of the church and the path of his sexuality, which he has been taught is inherently evil. There is a cult-like intensity to the village’s Catholicism, but it’s in the forest that Nino finds his spiritual home. This certainly isn’t accessible horror, as the narrative moves at a glacial pace, but it certainly serves an unsettling slice of nuanced and unpleasant suspense.

While its English titles sounds much more sexual than it is, it is the monster that takes centre stage for its original name in Spanish. The Almamula is enigmatic and malevolent, an unveiled metaphor for Nino’s supposed transgressions. And it’s delightfully seductive watching him straying further toward its dark side.

UK Release: Out now to watch on VOD, released by TLA Releasing


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