Since the Fantasia Film Festival is starting soon (August 20th to September 2nd, to be exact), we here at Film Combat Syndicate have been lucky enough to get early screening access to some of the movies that will be shown there. As you can read in our teasers of the first wave, second wave, or third wave announcements, there were plenty of films to choose from.
One of my choices was the Gothic/horror film by first-time director Xia Magnus’s Sanzaru, and I have to tell you, with this film, Magnus has made me into a fan! Sanzaru focuses on Eveyln, a nurse, who is living with a Texas family while caring for the ailing matriarch. Here is the official synopsis:
Evelyn, a young Filipina nurse, is living on an isolated estate while taking care of Dena, the aging matriarch of a Texas family. As Dena slips deeper into dementia, Evelyn begins to sense something ominous lurking behind the walls. Is the house a conduit for supernatural forces? Or is she just hearing things? As Evelyn’s paranoia pushes her to uncover her employer’s aw- ful past, she may not be prepared for the havoc her curiosity will unlock.
SANZARU is a Gothic tale, a journey to the heart of a haunted house. A house haunted, as much by death, as by secrets.
I enjoyed nearly everything about this film: from the slow set up to the quiet creepiness of the horror (Is there a spirit in the house? Is Evelyn losing her mind like Dena is?), to the realistic awkwardness of the characters’ interactions. Anyone can be haunted, whether it be by actual ghosts, the mistakes of their past, or by the people in their life. Sanzaru will make you pay attention and question what is going on until it is all tied up at the end.
Take a peek at the trailer:
If you’re not familiar with the Gothic horror genre, it is a combination of fiction, horror, death, and sometimes there is a little romance thrown in there. As with most Gothic tales, this one has little to no action so the draw is in the characters, their secrets, and the setting. Don’t go in expecting any gore either. Gothic tales emphasize emotion and a light thrill of terror rather than any jump scares or in-your-face type of scare. Going back to the definition, the only bit of Sanzaru that I did not care for was what felt like an odd dash of romance, but maybe that’s just me. I’m not a romance type of gal. Give me gore and horror, even the Gothic kind (minus the romance), any day. So, go back to our articles on the Fantasia Film Festival and clear your calendar so you can enjoy this year’s virtual edition of the festival.