History of the Occult (original title Historia de lo Oculto), directed by Cristian Ponce, tells the story of a TV show of investigative journalism that uncovers a conspiracy that ties the government to a Coven.
History of the Occult has a very intriguing plot. Set in an alternate reality, not so different from what the reality once was. A quote-unquote president raised to power by his intimate relationship to corporations. The only difference: there’s also witchcraft involved.
It is said that this movie has allegories for Argentina’s dictatorship years. So let’s briefly talk about it.
Argentina suffered a coup in 1976 as part of the US lead Operation Condor. Declassified documents show the involvement of the United States in overthrowing Latin America elected governments to install brutal dictatorships aligned with the American interests.
Today, the regime is called civic-military dictatorship because of the involvement of entrepreneurs’ organizations since the coup’s inception. As said by the Argentine newspaper Página 12:
“Civils were an indispensable part of the civic-military dictatorship and, in great measure, we can consider them the intellectual authors of it.” (translated by myself)
The entire article, detailing the involvement of these civil agents in the dictatorship, will be available in the description box below. If you can’t read in Spanish, I believe Google Translate can help at least make sense of the article.
The Dictatorship lasted until 1983 and was responsible for every imaginable atrocity against the population. The estimate number of people disappeared or killed is around 30 thousand. Many of these disappeared were children, and that’s one of the elements addressed in the movie.
I would love to point to every reference they made in the movie, but I feel I don’t know enough about this specific regime to make a decent analysis. Besides the one of the disappearing children, I can mention a tourism ad about the Falklands, that in reality sparked a war between the United Kingdom and Argentina. In this reality, it seems the island is Argentine with no dispute.
I believe that this knowledge about the lead years of Argentina adds depth to the film, but it’s definitely watchable without it.
The story is really excellent and suspenseful, with a mystery that makes you engaged and curious until the end. The only thing about it I felt lacking was that some elements weren’t properly elucidated. For example, everything about the Von Merken’s Laboratories.
The most prominent feeling in the movie is the suspense, as mentioned before. However, the horror is there. It’s already present in the film’s premise, but it also appears in horrific psychedelic visions of amazing visuals and effects.
I think the appearance of the movie is one of the most remarkable things for me. It simulates something much older, maybe from the sixties, with black and white and a TV aspect ratio. But even these characteristics are flexible, with colors showing through and changing aspect ratios.
Now, let’s go from the best to the worst. There’s nothing actually bad, only some things that I felt could be better.
The characters that caught my attention the most were Maria (played by Nadia Lozano), who is the one who shows most personality, while Adrián Marcato (played by Germán Baudino) and Alfredo (played by Héctor Ostrofsky) drive the story forward.
The other are not awful, but they’re too average or unremarkable in different degrees.
The acting, however, is pretty good. I wasn’t sure about Agustín Recondo’s (who plays Jorge Federici) first scene and I can’t quite put my finger on why. But later, he was at par with the rest of the cast for the remaining of the film.
History of the Occult was a quite pleasing experience for me, and I can see myself rewatching it in the future. It’s an interesting mystery with awesome visuals, and I believe it can be even better if I get to know more about Argentina’s history. For now, I’ll give History of the Occult a 7.
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