The Whistler: Origins (El Silbon: Origenes) is a new Venezuelan folk horror film by Gisberg Bermudez (Portion 2015). The film stars Daniela Bueno (El Inca 2016), Yon Henao Calderon (Paquete #3 2015), Eliane Chipia (The Deserter 2015), Fernando Gaviria (Lord of the Skies 2013) and newcomer Vladimir Garcia.
The Whistler refers to a phantasmagorical folk figure who wanders at night and is famed for terrorizing the drunk, the unfaithful and children, whom he’s known to feast upon. In Bermúdez’ gripping retelling of this popular Venezuelan-Colombian legend, it’s a race against the clock as a father struggles to find the origins of The Whistler’s curse in order to stop the worsening possession of his daughter by the supernatural entity.
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of folk tale films in general, so I jumped at the chance to watch The Whistler: Origins. Many different cultures have ideas of the boogeyman: El Cucuy, Babau, and La Llorona. The Venezuelan version is quite terrifying.
The film immediately plunges you into the world of an isolated, poor, rural village. There are two storylines going on, with the first one taking place in the present, where a father desperately tries to save his daughter from possession by The Whistler. The second one happens in the past, dealing with a grandfather who commits a terrible crime, his grandson who acts out a savage revenge, and the monster that is created. I found the idea of dual plot lines to be a good one, but in this particular case, the costumes in the past and future were so similar that I had a hard time figuring out which scene was which time.
The majority of The Whistler: Origins takes place at night and is shot in such muted colors that it almost appears to be in black and white. This adds to the dark folk tale feel of the film and is one of its strengths. Another strength is its use of sound. There is very little in terms of an actual soundtrack, and instead, the film relies on ambient sounds and the eerie whistles of the sinister main character. The acting was well done, with all actors passionate and committed to their roles.
The main problem with The Whistler: Origins boils down to pacing. The film never really gets going until about an hour in. It also takes about that long to explain anything important about The Whistler, so you may spend a good portion of that time wondering what on earth is going on, which not exactly a good thing.
That being said, for those with patience, The Whistler: Origins (El Silbon: Origenes) is a fascinating tale of love, loss, and revenge that continues to haunt a town. It’s always exciting to see horror folk tales of a different culture explored. Anyone interested in these type of films should absolutely check The Whistler: Origins out!