So I had a movie all lined up for the day after the election, but as y’all know, I just couldn’t contain my loathing for the results of Virginia’s gubernatorial political process. And then it was Thrift Store Thursday followed of course by Full Moon Friday, and here we are, Saturday, the day before the biannual dumbassery of switching our god damn clocks and fucking up our circadian rhythms for a couple weeks.
So, while I’m still lucid (or what passes for some value of lucid), I figured I better crank out a post about Wekufe: The Origin Of Evil. First of all, I paid full rental price for this on Prime because I’ve been dyin’ to see it for some time now. Wekufe was made in 2016, hit the festival circuit for a while, then finally made it to streaming last month. I think I recall reading something about difficulty with distribution.
Still, well worth both the wait and the price of admission. As Chilean found footage horror movies go, this is my absolute favorite, and not just because it’s the only Chilean found footage horror movie out there neither. No no, this movie packs quite a wallop into its lean 80 minutes.
Paula and Matias arrive on the island of Chiloé (not some remote jungle setting, but a reasonably urban one). For her university journalism project, Paula is conducting an investigation into the local legend of the Trauco. Her premise is the Trauco is basically a cover-up designed to explain the staggering amount of rape, pedophilia, and murder on the island beginning centuries ago with the missionaries and continuing to the present.
It’s a touchy subject, to the point that when Paula confronts the governor about this, he ends the interview. Next follows a series of odd encounters and occurrences that create a sense of lurking weirdness about the island and its inhabitants:
- Each of the three experts Paula interviews get suddenly called away
- A street vendor who agrees the Trauco is a cover-up disappears the next day when Paula goes to look for her
- Paula then becomes ill, and another vendor tells Matias that Paula is cursed, but she knows a ritual to fix it
- Paula is accosted by a band of street performers in bizarre masks. One paints a sigil on Paula’s forehead, and one throws feces on her
There’s also a good deal of talk concerning the brujos—who they are, what they do, how someone becomes one. On one hand, an added creepy detail. On the other hand, it’s even creepier if you go diggin’ around online about Chiloé. One of the things you find is this July 2021 article from Fodor’s: “Wizards Are Terrifying Everyone On A Remote Island In Chile.” I mean, it looks legit. It has a byline and everything. Still. July to October, when Wekufe came out? Not much time.
Similarly, looking up Trauco online doesn’t provide much information. The Trauco Wikipedia page is sparse and was, as of this writing, last updated in March 13 2021 and cites zero sources. Hmmm. A little Blair Witch type pre-release hoaxery perhaps?
Anyway, I won’t delve any further into the story because, if you haven’t seen Wekufe, it really needs to be on your watchlist. I will, however, point out some clever, intelligent references. Director Javier Attridge knows his found footage and doesn’t mind poking fun at it. Y’see, while Paula is coming at this as a journalist, Matias is also trying to assemble footage he can use in a found footage horror movie.
Knowing this, Paula makes several references during shooting about some of the more played out aspects of found footage, going so far is to start off an all-too-earnest “If you are watching this video, most likely I’m already dead” for his benefit. She also makes some sarcastic remarks about shaky cam footage and even takes the camera for an under-the-nose shot of her face in well-earned mockery of The Blair Witch Project.
Matias himself is a respectably knowledgeable horror nerd. He even sports a Cannibal Ferox t-shirt at one point—a nicely used detail given that Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 movie also focused on a woman investigating what she maintained was mythology, this time concerning the practice of cannibalism in the jungles of South America.
Matias also asserts that a number of American horror writers based many of their stories specifically on Chilean legends. He points specifically to Lovecraft saying that Cthulhu is in fact a Chilean figure and adds that the latitude and longitude of R’lyeh cited in “The Call Of Cthulhu” is basically that of Chiloé (which it actually isn’t but okay).
But perhaps the best decision Attridge made was with the end of the film. Is the Trauco real? Is this all a cover up? Is there a supernatural aspect to all this? Are the local community leaders cultists, murderers, or both? While the storyline reaches a clear resolution, it does so without ever answering these questions. Rather than being annoying, it’s both strangely satisfying as well as chillingly unnerving.
BODIES- 1 onscreen (plus a few I’m not sure of in a shootout)