Argentine filmmaker Seba De Caro’s latest outing in the horror genre, “El Viejo” (“The Old Man”) taps collective and childhood memories of Argentina’s military dictatorship and the haunted house fable.

“For me, the possibility of narrating a story that pits childhood against the most terrifying past in the history of my country is a unique experience,” he said. “To some extent, it’s my own story,” he told Variety, noting that since he was born in 1975, images of Argentina’s cruel dictatorship under Lt. Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla are embedded among his childhood memories.

“El Viejo” is among six Latin American projects that participate in the inaugural Sanfic-Morbido Lab, which runs online March 18-26. The project is in development and seeks strategic partners.

“El Viejo” turns on an old man who has been pulled out of an asylum by his sons who can’t afford the fees anymore. They install him in a ramshackle tear-down of a house and leave him there.

As his predatory instincts start to take over, he first tortures and kills a rat, then catches a cat until he tricks a man by feigning an accident. As he holds the man hostage to torture day after day, some kids begin to notice his movements in what used to be an abandoned house. One day, they venture in to explore the house while he’s away. He returns unexpectedly and a brutal confrontation takes place.

While the backdrop is the military dictatorship in Argentina, the story takes place in the present day, De Caro pointed out. “It is precisely about how horror transforms and returns; it’s also a dark fairy tale,” he added.

“Let’s say that “El Viejo” is the story of the neighborhood house that should not be entered and at the same time is about the dark nature of the monster; it’s a classic eternal story but a novelty for me,” he noted.

De Caro is also an actor and deemed an important personality in the world of cinema, radio, journalism and literature in Argentina. “El Viejo” will be his eighth film but only the third with more commercial aspirations, aside from “20,000 Besos” (2013) and “Claudia” (2019).

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