Lionsgate Home Entertainment, 20 May
Mexican horror dealing with home-grown mythology.
Billed as a ‘Robert Rodriguez Presents’ movie, the man who brought us From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City had a lot more to do with this than just sticking his name on the title. As well as executive producing, he actually co-wrote this promising shocker with director Eduardo Rodriguez (no relation), but you can see his hand in almost every aspect of the production.
When federal agent Magdalena (Gizeht Galatea) encounters a case involving the supernatural, she calls on the one person she knows who can help: the man who cured her of possession as a child. The Curandero – a sort of part shaman, part exorcist healer – is dead, however, so she has to make do with his son: Carlos (Carlos Gallardo, from El Mariachi). Carlos is less of a believer, faking the cure for a curse at the local stationhouse, and generally bumbling his way through the sanctifying he has to do there.
It isn’t long, though, before Carlos begins to see the visions his father did, and realise quite how much demonic evil is out there, tied into dealings with a local mob boss in Mexico City. Soon, he is fighting not only to save the people of this town from the Devil’s minions, but also Magdalena herself, who turns out to be more important to this investigation than even she realised.
Curandero is a film that doesn’t compromise. It tells its story at its own pace (and in Spanish, so expect subtitles), and doesn’t hold back on the gore – especially when Carlos is experiencing his visions. It even starts with crime scene footage of a bust on a satanic cult where several people have been slaughtered. But it’s all the better for this attitude. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its faults: the characters are difficult to relate to at first, for example, and some of the scenes – including a shootout in the middle of the street – seem to have wandered in from another genre. Yet it’s never less than interesting or downright disturbing.
It’s a crime this film has been shelved since 2005, but it’s getting its moment in the sun now which is a good thing (even if it comes with depressingly few extras – just a commentary from the director and DP). We can only hope this won’t affect a possible sequel, hinted at in the last few moments of the movie – and something that looks like it could be epic in scale. Well worth checking out.
Verdict: David Lynch meets The Exorcist by way of Desperado 8/10