Directed By: Adrián García Bogliano
Starring: Francisco Barreiro, Daniela Soto Vell, Jorge Molina
Premiere: This movie premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Trivia: In Hungary this film was released as A VICIOUS PRANK
Scherzo Diabolico is full of surprises, and while I was able to figure out one of its major twists in advance, there’s another that caught me completely off-guard.
Aram (Francisco Barreiro) is, by all appearances, a mild-mannered accountant, with a decent job, a wife (Milena Pezzi) and son, and enough free time to visit both his aging father and his favorite prostitute. But Aram has a dark side, which shows itself when he kidnaps teenager Anabela (Daniela Soto Vell), drags her to an abandoned warehouse and holds her there for several days, often leaving the poor girl alone for hours on end.
As Anabela does her best to deal with this nightmarish situation, Aram carries on with life as usual, staying late to assist his boss (Jorge Molina); and arguing with his wife, who wants Aram to be more assertive and demand a promotion at work. Aram does eventually release his captive, and shortly after his life takes a turn for the better. But fate has a way of sneaking up on you, and though Aram doesn’t realize it yet, his entire world is about to collapse around him.
Barreiro is effectively understated as the everyman with a terrible secret, and watching as he kidnaps, then traumatizes Anabela is no easy task. Initially, we have no idea what motivated the abduction; Aram never sexually assaults the girl, and has gone to great lengths to ensure she has plenty of food and water to sustain her throughout the ordeal. He does, at one point, tell Anabela to remove her clothes, but only so he can take pictures and video of her in the nude (we assume he will use the footage when issuing his ransom demands). Director Bogliano does a fine job guarding Aram’s motivations leading up to the first big reveal, though the clues he gives us from time to time were enough for me to figure them out on my own.
While we do come to know the reasons behind the kidnapping, and continue to follow Aram as he reaps the benefits of his troubling actions, there isn’t a moment in Scherzo Diabolico when we like him; he’s far too under-handed and self-absorbed to be a sympathetic character. As the story played out, I found myself hoping that, at some point, justice would catch up with Aram.
That said, I was not ready for the level of retribution that is unleashed upon him, and it’s in these later scenes that Scherzo Diabolico distinguishes itself as a truly horrific film. I dare not say more out of fear of spoiling it, but believe me; the last act of this movie will shock the hell out of you!