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INTERVIEW | Feral: A realistic twist on well-worn Christian-themed horror stories

With a festival premiere three years ago, this 2021, Feral – 100% is preparing to have its release in Mexican cinemas, after the Covid-19 pandemic and other distribution aspects got in the way for Andrés Kaiser’s debut feature see light. Winner of the Mexico First award at the Los Cabos International Film Festival in 2018, the film tells the story of a priest dedicated to psychoanalysis who decides to reintegrate into society three ‘wild’ children he found in the forest.

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Set in the mountains of Oaxaca and told as a mockumentary, Feral is a film with characteristics of horror and thriller films that hopes to surprise lovers of these genres with a story that takes its inspiration from real events. In an interview for ., the director Andrew Kaiser He said that the idea for the film came to him after reading Vicente Leñero’s play, Rejected People, where he narrates what happened in the psychoanalyst monastery of Santa María de la Resurrección, in which a radical criticism of contemplative life emerged .

Leñero was Kaiser’s teacher for five years, in a workshop, and after reviewing that text, the filmmaker began to investigate and questioned the writer about what had happened to the monks. However, he did not get many answers, since the writer did not know everyone involved, but that allowed the director to put together a story that he later titled as Feral.

He told me this story and I was perplexed, because I had never heard of it, a buried story, so there I thought ‘what had happened to the monks?’ And since he did not know all of them, he did not know how to answer me much, but there I started with the idea of ​​what would have happened to one of these monks, who has this psychoanalytic experience? and then I imagined it in contemplation, in the forest and there then what happens with this nature ?, because it is the brutal savagery that is represented with the wild child.

Aware that his film differs from the proposal that currently predominates in horror films, Kaiser explained that Feral She is not interested in the supernatural, on the contrary, she prefers to bet on the real to transmit that fear from the most human emotions. Also, for the director, stories on Christian themes have been exploited in the same way in this cinema, so he wanted to give it a twist.

The film is not interested in describing a supernatural world, on the contrary. That doesn’t make her more or less of the genre […] It seems to me that perhaps this idea brought from the Americans of the perpetual exploitation of Christian themes or that have to do with Christian propaganda, such as ghosts, possessions, has perhaps been abused or worn out. It seems to me that trying to give it a realistic twist can also help create a world just as terrifying and just as imaginative and just as terrible for the characters.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Feral is that it is told as a mockumentary, which gives it a terrifying realism that remains in the memory of viewers. On this, the filmmaker commented that although he was clear that he wanted to make a horror film, since the genre has always interested him, the narrative came later thanks to a call in which with little money he promised to make a mockumentary.

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For Kaiser, horror movies and cinema in general is about creating unique worlds, because that is what will remain in the minds of viewers. For this reason, in Feral She strove to make her world feel real, through different instruments, so that it resonates in the memory of whoever sees it.

There are many aspects that contributed to that, the genre, the form, both the mockumentary and the footage found, the use of various formats, the locations […] And I think that this is exactly what it is about, that the viewer has a unique experience and can really make a trip to a totally unknown place and then comes the thematic experience, if turning on the lights he still has the film in his head, then we will have succeeded.

Finally, the director explained that one of the most realistic – and terrifying – edges of Feral it is the weight of beliefs, even today, in a country like Mexico. Likewise, the filmmaker said that radicalization and religious fanaticism is something that everyone can understand and that, without a doubt, it is what will resonate the most with viewers.

At the end of the day, it’s a movie that talks about the danger it can bring when we hold on to our beliefs, whatever the cost. How can we enter a terrain of radicalization, of fanaticism, which can extinguish the lives of others. This idea is something that resonates, because it keeps happening. It is not necessary to have a tragedy with burned people to understand that yes, that radicalization affects everyone’s life and that the power groups are there, imposing their ideas. I think this Christian or Catholic terror can resonate with most people who see it.

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