OK, it’s never easy to do a horror anthology film, especially when all the stories in it are written and directed by different people. While we could talk about the hits and misses on films like “V/H/S”, “The Abc’s Of Death” (and their sequels) or “Tales Of Halloween”, we can’t deny that the anthology format is making a comeback, and I for one, could not be happier, since is one of my favorite formats.
Due to be released on VOD and Dvd on November 3rd , comes “Mexico Bárbaro” (Barbarian México) , a Mexican anthology film in which the tales shown are based on traditions and legends (both popular and urban) from México. 8 Mexican directors bring their styles and talents to bring to life an anthology I hope is just the first of many, although I got to admit, the final result is not a film that I can recommend to everybody, not even to the casual horror film viewer.
The film tackles on several very interesting themes, but the rhythm feels somewhat uneven, there are some stories that I thought dragged for too long and some go for the shock value just to get a easy reaction from the viewer, however, there are also some others segments that balance the film and give us stories to keep thinking about after the film ends. Can’t miss the fact that also some themes resonates with the real horrors that some people has to live with on a daily basis.
In order to avoid spoilers, I’ll touch the basic premise of the segments and NOT in the order that will be on the film, just to give you a chance to be caught off guard and so you can enjoy it. (In case that you also speak Spanish you can hear my podcast with a more detailed review here)
A reporter interviews a gang member marked for death. His story show us that despite that centuries have passed since the Spanish conquest, there are some old traditions that have survived onto modern times, but not the kind of traditions that are taught on schools, nor you see celebrated on the streets or on Tv.
A mentally disabled girl tries to warn her loved ones about a dangerous creature living near their building. A man practices a very complicated ritual to bring a friend back to life, for “Old Times” sake. Two bandits on the run after their latest robbery decide to hide on an deserted building which rumor has it, is cursed.
A young couple skip school, and despite the warnings from a local caretaker, decide to have a romantic getaway in a cabin, not knowing that some mischievous residents from the woods will pay them a visit.
The customers of a stripper club get a show they will never forget, courtesy of the bar’s owner, who takes some Mexican traditions very seriously. A young girl decides to smoke a joint taken from a dead man’s hand and learns the hard way that there is no such thing as a free ride. A woman fights her captor for freedom… I could say more, but is better to keep you guessing.
The directors of these segments were Edgar Nito, Lex Ortega, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Aaron Soto, Isaac Ezban (Who also directed the HIGHLY recommended “El Incidente”), Laurette Flores Bornn, Jorge Michel Grau and Ulises Guzman.
As you might guess there were segments that I enjoyed a lot, specially for their WTF factor, but there were other stories that could use some trimming and maybe make room for another segment. The names of the segments appear AFTER the story plays out and there is no warp-around story between them, which I think works just fine. When I saw this film about six months ago at the “Hola Mexico Festival” there were very vocal and diverse reactions from the audience (even some walkouts) due the graphic content, therefore I don’t think is a film for the general (adult) audience.
The film has LOTS of gore, nudity and sex, and let me be clear, when I say “Sex” I might not be referring to the usual kind, so think twice about watching this film on the family room with sensitive people (unless you want to get rid of some persons from your house, then by all means, GO FOR IT).
In the end, “Mexico Bárbaro” is a risky, bold film, one that won’t be easily forgotten, and at least in México, will break a lot of taboos. It might even open doors for a lot of creative people that have struggled to get out of the “Traditional” cinema in Mexico. If you are not too sensitive to graphic descriptions of violence, gore and sex, give this film a try, just be warned that this will not be a Telenovela.