This review of the Netflix film Fever Dream, or known as Distancia de resonate, does not contain spoilers.
Director Claudia Llosa’s Fever Dream (otherwise known as Distancia de resonate) has a unique immersive timing and pace. Being billed in the horror genre, it’s much more a psychological thriller that borders on madness. Her film, just like Llosa’s acclaimed The Milk of Sorrow, is visually stunning. Her eye draws visuals that are evocative and wonderfully atmospheric. These shots inside the frame are living pieces of art. Paintings, if you will. Samanta Schweblin adapted the script from her novel of the same name that’s remarkably true to the source material. It’s intriguing, ominous, beautiful, and will leave many scratching their heads.Fever Dream is an American-Chilean-Spanish film set in the country of Chile. The film follows Amanda (María Rodríguez) and her small child, Nina. They are on vacation in the countryside for the summer—a farmhouse in the middle of a golden field of wheat. When a breeze picks up, you can see the waves flowing for miles kicking up the dew that falls like rain. All the neighborhood children play in them, making mazes and playing hide and seek. After settling in, Amanda meets Carla (Dolores Fonzi), a forty-something housewife who lives with her horse-breeding husband, Omar (German Palacios), and her son, David (Marcelo Michinaux).
Carla, a product of her isolation, immediately unveils all her fears of her son, David. He hasn’t been the same since he got sick when he was three years old. She had to take him to the local medicine woman down the green river. Carla is scared of him. She thinks he is a monster. It’s a striking difference from Amanda. Amanda is very protective of her daughter and is always keeping an eye out for her. She is so worried that she practically makes it seem like she may drift away and disappear. Everything is a bit odd about this Chilean countryside town. There are very few children. Are David’s peculiarities a product of social isolation?
Fever Dream has the same quality as We the Animals, Paris Is Us, and even Picnic at Hanging Rock to a certain extent. These films are dreamlike narratives where all the dots may not connect. Many may find Fever Dream to be muddled. Which, if we’re being honest, is fair. Except that’s the intent of Llosa’s film. Unfortunately, due to demands that we are not allowed to discuss two very crucial plot points. This makes it impossible to delve into the film’s South American themes. However, the book written in 2017 has many we can relate to. A sickness that is brought out by rural seclusion.
Films like Claudia Llosa’s Fever Dream need to be pondered and digested, simply because large sections of the film and particularly the ending can be left up to interpretation. It may flounder a bit in its self-importance and be uncomfortable for some with its ominous psychological horror instead of the usual slasher p**n so many are fond of these days. It can be debated, dissected, and will no doubt be divisive for many.