HAUNTED: LATIN AMERICA Is Semi Scary and Slightly Silly
April 13, 2021
Scary stories are always much scarier when they’re true. When the monster is real, the threat seems much more real. At least, that’s what Haunted: Latin America is banking on. The new series, a Latin America version of Netflix’s popular show Haunted, premiered on the streamer on March 31 and if you’ve seen the original you’re gonna get exactly what you’re expecting.
If you’re new to the series, it’s simple. People gather with a few friends and family members in a lavishly decorated living room to share their real-life haunts, stories that are “so traumatic and painful, [they] should’ve been forgotten by now.” The stories range from “I saw the devil” to “my doll was possessed,” and the tales are indeed haunting…if they’re true. It’s a bit difficult to separate the victims’ tales from the over-the-top recreations of the show, which are meant to increase the scare factor. The storytellers recount horrifying events while a troupe of actors quiver in fear as ghostly creatures haunt them. It’s a good idea–don’t get me wrong–and sometimes it’s really effective. It’s just that, sometimes it’s not.
The acting itself is fairly standard. No one’s winning any awards, but they all give it their best. What’s really lacking is special effects. The scares rely heavily on monsters who are decked out in practical makeup enhanced with CGI, but the problem is this isn’t a Marvel budget and the effects leave much to be desired. Sometimes they’re downright silly, like the episode where a woman’s doll is haunting her since how the doll moves is anything but terrifying.
Despite its gloriously campy effects, there are a few subtle scares. In the first episode, for instance, keep your eyes peeled whenever the family is on the staircase of their haunted house and you might just jump. You can’t be mad at Netflix for leaning heavily on horror tropes, like jumpscares and music stings. They work and even if there’s a surplus of them, the show has lots of classic scares.
Haunted houses, a man who has been followed by ghostly women for his entire life (they even saved him from danger once), and a young boy who was haunted by the ghost of his dead neighbor are all really scary stories wherein the victims tell the stories with absolute earnestness. It’s just difficult to decipher how much is true, exactly, and how much is being played up for the sake of television.
If you can look past whether you truly believe a possessed doll pulled dishes out of the cabinets and can accept that paranormal things happened to some degree, then you could be truly haunted by this show. Overall, if you love a good jump scare and aren’t put off by cheesy effects, Haunted: Latin America is the series for you. If you’re looking for something more refined, you can probably sit this one out.