Argentina’s got a new genre enfant terrible in the person of Javier Diment, co-writer and co-director (with actor Luis Ziembrowski) of THE OWNER (EL PROPIETARIO; see pics below), a strange blend of horror and psychological thriller. First conceived as a TV movie for the prestigious 200 YEARS anthology funded by Argentina’s Channel 7, THE OWNER began winning attention long before its airing, thanks to its original and demented storyline and some gut-wrenching, not-for-the-squeamish horror scenes. It was then that distributors around the world and in Argentina (where some are already pushing for a theatrical release) started asking the directors about the film’s availability for foreign distribution.
The storyline centers on an ascending lesbian actress (Jimena Anganuzi) who moves into a new apartment—little knowing about the intentions of its owner (played by newcomer Mario Das Airas). He lives next door, and monitors her every move through hidden cameras, developing an obsession with the girl that evolves into a strange relationship she will not be aware of—until it’s too late. Full of bloody scenes, plenty of sex and nudity and surprising performances, it’s on the way to becoming 200 YEARS OF CINEMA’s equivalent to MASTERS OF HORROR’s most controversial entry, IMPRINT, which was also deemed too strong for TV. The good news is that THE OWNER will finally see the light of day this year—not only in Argentina, but also in film festivals around the world.
It took a lot of guts to give Diment, Ziembrowski and co. the funds for such a genre-bending project, which was co-scripted by some of Diment’s collaborators on his feature debut SENSE OF FEAR: Martin Blousson, German (DYING GOD) Val and Santiago Hadida. While SENSE had a lower budget, THE OWNER gave the directors the chance to work on a professional level, which is evident not only in the caliber of the names involved (Anganuzi and Ziembrowski are major stars in Argentina), but also in the impressive imagery on display throughout the film. Inspired crane shots and sets built specially under the directors’ supervision add to the ambience. It’s also quite shocking, and one scene in particular (shot in 8mm) is truly strong stuff due to its graphic “snuff”-like quality. However, “The true horror of THE OWNER lies in its psychological mayhem,” Diment tells Fango. “Behind all of the story’s crazyness, there’s a fundemantal preoccupation with the universal theme of abuse and its consequences. Besides, it’s also a metaphor for possesive love. In the end, it’s just a love story.”
Diment and Ziembrowski (who recently won the prestigious Clarin award for the TV series LA LOLA) are planning to unleash THE OWNER to unsuspecting audiences throughout 2008. In the meantime, you can check out the trailer they created especially for Fango here; be advised that it’s intended for adults only and is not work-safe.