Spanish-born writer-director Adrián García Bogliano has gained a reputation as one of the brightest young horror directors around, thanks to such skilled, idiosyncratic films as 2011’s slow-burning occult tale, Penumbra, and his recent English language movie, Late Phases, a werewolf tale set in a retirement community. In his Mexico-set horror-thriller, Scherzo Diabolico, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, a schoolgirl played by Daniela Soto Vell is kidnapped by an accountant (Francisco Barreiro) with consequences bloody enough to give the actress shudders. “Special effects? This is [a new] experience for me,” Vell says. “At first I thought, ‘This is disgusting, I can’t even see it. The smell! No, Adrián!’ And as the days went by I said, ‘Oh my god, I love this!’ I started touching it and the smell was almost like chili with sugar. You get used to it.”
Diabolico is another Bogliano yarn with a unique flavor, one which makes abundant use of classical music—including the piano piece after which it is named—for purposes of both atmosphere and plot. Worryingly, the director claims his latest horrorshow is in part autobiographical. “I didn’t kidnap anyone!” he protests. “But I took piano lessons for a couple of years when I was a kid. I couldn’t make it. I’m more of a visual person. Trying to make that failure into a movie, it was an interesting thing.”
Bogliano describes Scherzo Diabolico as a black comedy—although he admits the film is short on out-and-out belly laughs. “The comic elements are there but they are weird,” he says. “You don’t know whether you should laugh or not. To me, the biggest inspiration in that sense is the Coen brothers. I mean, Fargo is a black comedy but when you see the film you probably laugh two times in the whole movie.”
The prolific Bogliano, whose recent output also includes 2012’s Here Comes the Devil and a segment of the same year’s horror anthology, The ABCs of Death, plans on taking some time off to tour the festival circuit with Scherzo Diabolico before embarking on a new movie, but swears he has no intention of deserting the horror genre. “For many other directors I think it’s a step for something else—but this is my goal,” he says. “My goal is to be a Master of Horror.”
Scherzo Diabolico is screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 25.