'The Chosen One' review: Netflix's thriller takes viewers into the belly of terror while playing on our perception of fear
‘The Chosen One’ takes the audiences on a journey deep into the abyss of terror, without resorting to jump scares
Netflix has given us some of the best binge-worthy content, especially when it comes to foreign language series. A Netflix original, 'The Chosen One' aka 'O Escolhido', the story of three doctors who travel deep into a remote Brazilian village to administer vaccines to a community that hates outsiders, is no different. The series hooks you with sinister-looking black magic rituals, which gives us the first glimpse of the mysterious Chosen One.
Paloma Bernardi as Lúcia Santeiro, Pedro Caetano as Damião Almeida, and Gutto Szuster as Enzo Vergani, are the three brave hearts who decide to leave civilization and – obviously – network coverage behind to ensure the government's work is done. As expected, things get real creepy real fast, and it is almost impossible to not pay attention to the minute details.
Inspired by the Mexican series 'Niño Santo', the Brazillian show is deeply rooted in blind faith and seemingly archaic rituals, and poses the question: Can faith answer questions that science cannot? While the outsiders represent logic, the villagers represent faith. Within this juxtaposition, 'The Chosen One' takes the audiences on a journey deep into the abyss of terror.
This terror is not inspired by jump scares or despicable creatures lurking around every corner. It is a terror that rises from deep within you when you realize there is nowhere to turn for help – actual help. And, the sad part is that they were warned, demanded, requested to leave, but choose to stay back until their work is done: A choice that might cost them dearly.
The various degrees in which the choice affects the trio is also very beautifully portrayed by the three actors. Bernardi's Lúcia is honorable, she doesn't believe in leaving any men behind, and she has no second thoughts about having to stay behind, and it is evident that she is the true leader of the pack.
Damião, meanwhile, is skeptical of the villagers. He would never thwart Lúcia's decisions but it is evident that he is not as easily convinced that there is nothing fishy going on in the village. Rich boy Enzo is a whole different story. Having decided to turn his back on the program, he curses the second he even stepped into the village and is very distrustful of the villagers. He believes that if they do not want to be vaccinated, it is their problem and not his.
Oftentimes in the series, we are forced to ask ourselves if it is the social conditioning that is causing us to fear this community that we do not understand. There are moments when you realize that there is a shimmer of a possibility that would convince you that their beliefs are as real as the fact that we are living on a sphere that floats in space and forget to be scared.
The cinematography of the series also complements this method of storytelling, by gliding over the mangroves and the beautiful alligator-infested river and making us forget this is the same place that houses terrors unknown to most men. The enigma of 'The Chosen One' is also maintained for a huge chunk of the series with viewers barely getting glimpses of the villagers' chosen leader, and any awareness about him stemming only from their words of reverence.
The way in which 'The Chosen One' unveils the layers that keep the secrets hidden is almost seductive. We learn their customs and the reasons for these customs at a steady pace, but the wait is definitely worth it. Oftentimes it is deliberatively repetitive, easing us into the point of utter frustration that the doctors experience, except for the luxury of our homes.
In case you are still wondering, this series is definitely worth your time. season one of 'The Chosen One' premieres on Friday, June 28, on Netflix.