Juno Temple delivers a superb performance as Alicia, an unhappy teen dispatched from California to Chile to chill with her cousin Sarah (Browning) and Sarah's boyfriend Agustín (Agustín Silva). Hooking up with some buddies, they venture into a verdant forested island for some down time... but pretty soon the antsy Alicia feels alienated, particularly by the bullying Brink (Cera) who enjoys revelling in her discomfort. Haunting, psychedelic horror from writer-director Sebastián Silva.
Catalina Sandino Moreno
Only 24, Juno Temple's got a Bafta under her belt and has already worked with Stephen Poliakoff, Noah Baumbach, Christopher Nolan and William Friedkin. After witnessing her performance in this strange and seductive drama, it's not hard to see why she's in demand.
The young Brit puts on her best American twang to play Alicia, an awkward young woman taking her first trip outside the US to visit her cousin Sarah (Browning) and her friends in Chile.
When Sarah swiftly returns to Santiago for an exam, Alicia's left with her confrontational friends, including the smug and effete diplomat's son Brink (Cera). The bucolic landscape turns threatening as Alicia's loneliness and the others' oblique behaviour sets off a chilling drama about fear and destruction.
Director Silva worked with Cera on the recent independent comedy Crystal Fairy and coaxes an intriguing performance from the Superbad star here.
Brink is subtly aggressive, juvenile, irritating but a captivating presence whenever he's on screen, especially in sexually charged scenes with Temple. Magic Magic certainly deserves credit for being the first film to make an audience seethe with loating for such an adorable actor as Cera.
Moreno is uncomfortably combative from the get-go while the mostly absent Browning is an ethereal presence, well balanced by the inherently good, but weak and listless Augustine (Agustin Silva). Temple, however, is the film's heart and its fracturing soul and the only really sympathetic character in the piece.
Though there are some striking and creative visuals from Silva, it's Temple who makes a difficult, often hard-to-like, frequently maddening film worth the effort.
She's got a tremendous talent for packing layers of feeling into her diminutive frame and impish face and as the reality begins to shift and we join Alicia in being unsure of what's true and what's deceit, Temple pulls the audience, willing or not, into the full throes of a psychological breakdown.
With some haunting imagery and an unusual, throbbing sense of dread throughout, this is a trippy twist on the horror trope about sadists and innocents.
Thanks to a captivating lead performance, it's also a melancholic journey on which you'll be willing to go.
Whether you come back in one piece is another matter.