What to watch: Carnal Sins

A heady mix of religion, folklore, and hormones in this coming-of-age story from Argentina.

What to watch: Carnal Sins

Written and directed by Juan Sebastián Torales, Carnal Sins - also known as Almamula - is coming-of-age story that serves up a heady mix of religion, folklore.

Set in the rural forests of Argentina, Carnal Sins gives us the story of Nino (Nicolas Diaz).

To protect him from homophobic bullying at school, Nino's family temporarily relocate to the rural community where the family have a farm on the edge of a forest. But the rural community is not the peaceful idyll that they'd hoped it would be - a local boy had recently disappeared and there was speculation that the mystery was linked to the Almamula.

His devout mother signs Nino up to confirmation classes with the local Catholic priest - sin is the word that is on everyone's lips and Nino's hormones are raging.

The Almamula is a malevolent spirit, or perhaps some kind of witch - drawn to those of impure thought, word, and deed, fuelled by the carnal sins of those that wander through her forest.

Nino's masturbatory fantasies increasingly blur the lines between dreams and reality - as his sexual needs become undeniable, he longs to experience the ecstasy of the kind of carnal sins that would inevitably summon the Almamula.

This is a watchable and engaging film. Juan Sebastián Torales effectively builds the tension - as well as the sweaty heat and palpable sexual desire. What also builds is the uncertainty as to how this story will unfold - how far the film will lean into the folklore that it is exploring.

Adolescence is that liminal period between childhood and adulthood - a fever-dream where our emotions are high, everything is dramatic, and nothing seems to make sense. It's fertile ground for storytelling - add a malevolent hormone-monster into the mix, and that's a film that you'll probably want to add to your watch-list.

Carnal Sins is distributed by TLA Releasing

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