Through a cinema of human themes and no less dark, Issac Ezban has established itself as one of the great exponents of science fiction in Mexico. Thanks to festival titles like The incident (2014) and the lookalikes (2015), the daring director has ventured into the genre with captivating, disturbing and terrifying stories. “I’ve always considered myself more of a horror creator than a sci-fi creator,” says Ezban. And for your next movie The evil eyechose to succumb completely to the engine of his creativity.
With The evil eye, Isaac Ezban renounces science fiction to offer us his first horror film: a horror that even acquires a folkloric character. It tells the story of Nala, a girl moving towards her adolescence, while a cloud of supernatural conflict forms around her, made up of family secrets, witchcraft and mythological creatures.
This mythology comes from beliefs rooted in the Dominican Republic, the country that saw the birth of the first script for the film, from the pen of Junior Rosario. In 2016, producer Edgar San Juan (Northed, the absent) looked at that original material and proposed to Ezban to turn it into one of his next feature films. “When I read it I saw a lot of potential but I also felt a lot of desire to make the film more my own, that is, to put my personal touch on it,” says the director, who finally adopted the project and rewrote a large part of the script together with Rosario and San Juan, without ever losing a metaphorical intention, so characteristic of his previous films.
“On The incident, I used science fiction for a metaphor about the passage of time. On the lookalikes, I used science fiction for a metaphor about the fear of losing one’s identity. And in parallel, I used science fiction for a metaphor about the destructive power of ambition,” he says. «I was very attracted to The evil eyeNow it was terror that could be used as a metaphor for what terror is. coming of agewhat it is to discover another world when you pass adolescence».
For this, Isaac Ezban did not lose sight of the influence of Guillermo del Toro from Guadalajara, to whom he attributes his desire to always seek the human element in his films. In fact, two films by that Oscar-winning filmmaker, The Devil’s backbone and The Pan’s LabyrinthEzban lists them within his coming of age favourites. But in addition, such titles were “two great pillars” during the years of rewriting The evil eye, according to talk. And he emphasizes that his next film boasts very interesting creatures, in his words, as well as a vast and imaginative mythology, rightly reminiscent of Del Toro’s universes.
For example, the plot of The evil eye contemplate the figure of Bacá, a creepy creature from Dominican folklore that grants good luck to those who invoke it, but at a very high price. Ezban confesses that such a mythological entity appears very little in the film, but it carries considerable weight in the characters’ journey. Therefore, it was important to attend to its design and manufacture with great care, in complicity with the make-up artist and specialist in prosthetics Roberto Ortiz (Belzebuth).
“At some point it was considered whether these creatures could be digital or animated,” revealed the thirtysomething director. «I always said: ‘No, no, no, this has to be real, like when you saw creatures made by Stan Winston, when you see The flywhen you see Alienwhen you see things like that’».
On the other hand, the main actresses of The evil eye –or the roles they play– also reflect Isaac Ezban’s ambition or desire to use superlatives. There is the veteran Ofelia Medina, winner of the Ariel de Oro in 2021, who in the horror film plays Josefa, an antagonistic role that generates enormous expectations.
«Since I met Ofelia I told her: ‘My true intention, without wanting to sound pretentious, is to build one of the greatest antagonists in the history of cinema’«, shares the director. «It is something that I also see a lot in the cinema of [Guillermo] del Toro. I think he’s great at building antagonists, right? General Vidal of The Pan’s Labyrinth or Hyacinth of The Devil’s backbone. I want an antagonist like that, that you really hate her, that you want to kill her. For that she needed a great actress and I think Ofelia made it exceptional.«.
In Nala’s shoes is Paola Miguel, an emerging actress – the next star of the Mexican series Journey to the Center of the Earth of Disney Plus– and that with The evil eye will deliver his first leading role in cinema.
«I like that in our film we have fresh blood and consolidated blood. And you have no idea what a team the two of them made on set,” says Ezban. «[Paola] She has a lot of talent, a lot of discipline, a lot of intelligence, instinct, and I think she is one of the most important actresses for the future of cinema in Mexico.«.
The cast is complemented by Arap Bethke (ravens club), Samantha Castillo (Cecilia), Paloma Alvamar (It was not my fault) and debutant Ivanna Sofía Ferro, among others.
After the delays of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film The evil eye could be shot in November and December 2021. It is currently in the post-production phase. Its premiere in Mexican theaters is scheduled for September 22, 2022courtesy of Cinépolis Distribución.
This year, by the same distributor, they will also hit theaters on thriller I can’t without you (April 24), drama The ship (May 12), the coming of age Tell me about you (August 4) and comedy lessons for scoundrels (September 1st).
The entry Mal de ojo: This will be the first horror film by Mexican Isaac Ezban was first published in Cine PREMIERE.