Image courtesy of TIFF
Agustina San Martin mesmerizes with unknown dangers and the power of one girl’s self-discovery.
Emilia (Tamara Rocca) is searching for her missing brother Mateo. After their mother’s death, he hasn’t responded to her calls, so she travels to the remote town where he lives, on the border of Argentina and Brazil. She stays with her Aunt Inés (Ana Brun), distant, eccentric and she has no time for other people in this town, much less her niece and family issues.
The town is filled with strange sorts, from Lautauro (João Miguel), who heads a search for a beast terrorizing the village, to the priest, who is all sorts of odd, and no one has heard of her brother when she asks. As Emilia hopes Mateo meets her at Aunt Inés’ hostel, she befriends a young woman Julieth (Julieth Micolta), who helps Emilia come out of her shell.
To Kill the Beast is slow, taking its time as we see how Emilia deals with her missing brother and unresolved family drama that never reveals itself fully. However, the audience gathers that they are a family who stubbornly refuses to deal with death and how it affects each member. We also see how Emilia copes with all the personalities around her as she tries to find her brother and her independence.
The town’s beauty is highlighted in To Kill The Beast, but I wish there was more from the film as a whole. The family dynamic was intriguing, as was Emilia’s coming of age. There were the makings of a gothic mystery here, but we only get a touch of that plus a touch of mythology that takes over a whole town.
San Martin’s debut feature film is truly atmospheric, from the foggy treetops to the whispers that engulf the town, flooding it with suspicion and speculation as everyone is on edge with fear of this elusive beast. Everyone here sits on the fringe, teetering on the border of two countries, the jungle and the mysteries within. Rocca’s angelic face, Micolta’s star presence and the wilderness that presents a constant unknown danger will leave To Kill The Beast to intrigue until the last frame.
Check out the 2021 TIFF festival here.