Fantasia Festival Review: Sanzaru

Asia is full of ghosts. Of spirits and demons of centuries past and unhappiness long forgotten. Migration has, in some ways, spread these myths, legends and traditions far from those shores. These often wash-up on the coast of America. The New World has its own spectres, most of which were created by the ‘colonisation’ of the continent. Xia Magnus’ new films, Sanzaru, mixes ghosts of the past with those of the present.

Evelyn (Aina Dumlao), a young Filipina nurse, has moved to a remote Texan town to take care of Dena Regan (Jayne Taini), who is suffering from dementia. The matriarch’s rather taciturn son Clem (Justin Arnold) and Evelyn’s wayward nephew Amos (Jon Viktor Corpuz) also live with them. As her condition begins to deteriorate, Dena’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and unpredictable. Taking a particularly strange form during the night.

Sanzaru mixes eastern and western traditions to create an eerie and affecting ghost story. It’s a dark tale full of secrets, mysteries and suspicion. Trauma permeates through all these characters. Each has dealt (or not dealt) with it in their own way. Carrying the past on their shoulders. Weighed down by the memories. Sanzaru is a unusual and fragmentary tale which will slowly ebb into your psyche and bury itself there.

Sanzaru premiered at Fantastic Festival.

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