Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Guillermo Del Toro is a name synonymous with good film now, however, he didn't always have a spectacular name. He has made some incredible films from the past, and things have been steam rolling through to this day. He created a very intense, horror film in Spanish that carries over a traditional horror palette that most people don't seem to understand anymore. Harking back to the seriousness of the 70's mainstream horror push, and the 80's gift of gore, with traditional Spanish rhetoric, this film really tied together a lot of pieces well without getting sickening or too gorey for its own good. The movie that I'm going to try to review here is the enigmatic film entitled, "Cronos".
Cronos is an interesting film as it goes back and forth between English and Spanish. It starts out with a nice backstory about a metaphysical device, not too unlike the box from Hellraiser, but much more nuanced. The device seems to be attached to the death of several people, but we do not know for sure, and to introduce us to the unorthodox death sequences we are greeted with someone hung upside down, blood dripping, and the movie progresses to modern day.
Here is a trailer for the Guillermo Del Toro's classic Cronos:
One of the downsides of this film is that you have to think and watch at the same time. This story has a cerebral quality that you're not going to easily grasp. It's a combination of subtle Spanish speaking and if you're using subtitles, English translation. However, the screen shows things that you have to pick up or you'll lose sight overall. I can see many people not liking this film because of the fact that it moves so fast through Spanish and English never really settling over anyone over the other in regards to complicated speech. However, if you're not used to it, you're going to think this film is not worth while for you. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you'll miss out on this deeply moving film.
For those familiar with Batman, this movie is somewhat on the same line of "The Lazarus Pit" from that line of writing. The Cronos device forces itself onto someone and upon piercing the skin, creates a long lasting life. However, to remain alive the user must drink blood! So what we are getting out of the story here is a vampiristic, zombie like effect and scenario that is repeated in horror a lot. I like this film because it's not over the top in the presentation of this fountain of youth type thing. The Cronos device is an insect, made of gold, and it is really subtle throughout the film.
As the movie progresses the conflict between two men boils over into a frenzy, creating the main conflict of this film. With both people wanting themselves to possess the ultimate power, we see how the human condition could really turn evil when life and pride are on the life. The greed of life is the underlying interesting point of the film.
Is Cronos a scary film?: No.
Cronos, while it means well is not a scary movie to me. It is a well plotted, and superbly acted movie. It's casual in its demeanor, it's poignant in the message and while it is based in horror overall, it's not scary. The pacing does not allow for much horror elements, and while they are there, there is so much dialogue and so much emphatic usage of language, color, and substance that you really start to feel for the characters. It has been noted on this site that if you start to care about the characters than the horror elements are shaken a bit more and you don't really see the scary notions.
Can it be scary? Yes, the traditional idea of living forever is not something that is new. The desperation for the fountain of youth is something that we have seen explored in many movies and in world history. The main horror to the notion of living forever is not so much the boredom of it as seen in films like "Dracula" but more so the burden of staying alive in a world that wants you dead. we see the latter in a lot of modern zombie films, where eating to stay alive is truly the name of the game. The scariest part of this film is the obsession of staying young, as the device helps the main character get vitality. He will stop at nothing to use it, which will then kill him. The film has a unique point that was also seen in "Tales from the Crypt", specifically when a man has 9 lives and he's trying to cheat death at all costs. Cheating death seems to be something that has impressed horror movie fans as well as we have seen "Final Destination" make a franchise out of the notion.
Cronos is an impressive horror film. It's a slow moving film though, and while visually it shows prowess from a brilliant director, the horror elements are dated overall. However, that's where you win the most out of this film, the way it doesn't treat the viewer like a kid, or a horror fiend, and how it really relies on character development over scare tactics or jumps scenes is something that is not common in today's horror films. In fact, this film is quite the example in how you can be effective without being too over the top or without rehashing the past.
Cronos is highly recommended to serious horror movie fans and movie buffs alike. The colors, the acting, and the plot points make this one of the better horror movies to come out of Mexico in decades. Seriously, this is a really cool piece of horror cinema, despite my points on how slow it can be at times.
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