SANZARU Comes to 2020 Fantasia Film Festival


Written and directed by Xia Magnus

Evelyn, a young Filipina nurse, is living on an isolated estate while taking care of Dena, the aging matriarch of a Texas family. As Dena slips deeper into dementia, Evelyn begins to sense something ominous lurking behind the walls. Is the house a conduit for supernatural forces? Or is she just hearing things? As Evelyn’s paranoia pushes her to uncover her employer’s aw- ful past, she may not be prepared for the havoc her curiosity will unlock.

SANZARU is a Gothic tale, a journey to the heart of a haunted house. A house haunted, as much by death, as by secrets.

The movie was filmed in TEXAS

Director’s Statement

Who is Mr. Sanzaru

Horror genre is essentially a discourse on trauma, and therefore the Haunted House Sto-ry a dialogue about the imprint of historical trauma. More specifically, the long-term effects of violence and death on the family unit.

A haunting is personal, intimate, domestic– Think Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Turn of the Screw. And because we inherited many tropes from the Gothic literary tradition, Ghost Stories have the wonderful ability to straddle both the horrific and the melodramatic realm; What it feels like to be a stranger in a strange house, the deep unease that comes with being an outsid-er. Most importantly they express our anxieties about the impossibility of the nuclear family, the empty promise of familial security, and intergenerational abuse.

In Japanese, ‘Sanzaru’ means the ‘Three Wise Monkeys’, who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. The monkeys can symbolize balance, in the Buddhist sense of not dwelling on evil thoughts, but they can also signify imbalance, from the denial of unwanted truths.

In the film, Mr. Sanzaru, like so many real life antagonists, tricks his victims into believing that harmony is achieved by repressing past suffering. He torments the Regan family, threat-ening to unleash their shared secret. A demon, a ghost, or a force– Mr. Sanzaru could be a Gothic manifestation of the metaphysical horrors of unprocessed trauma. His power over the house and its occupants is predicated on their silence.

It’s Evelyn, with the help of her family, who must acknowledge and express her own past trau-ma before she can escape Mr. Sanzaru’s control and restore balance. -Xia Magnus

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