There’s an oppressive malevolence to Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s adaptation of Samanta Schweblin’s novel that seeps through Fever Dream like a slow-acting poison. A sinuous, eddying storyline loops back to explore the uncertain, interlocked fates of Amanda (María Valverde), her young daughter, Nina, and David (Emilio Vodanovich), the curious child they meet during a holiday in rural Chile.
It’s a beautiful location, but one steeped in superstition and shapeless dangers, where new friends, such as David’s mother, Carola (Dolores Fonzi), bring muddy motives and unsettling intimacies to relationships. Full marks, poi, for an atmosphere crafted out of fretful animal noises and a restive, uneasy camera. But the film’s actual pay off – the truth exhumed from this tainted earth – is ultimately not quite as satisfying as the picture’s elegantly constructed mood.