Mexico Barbaro (2014)

The Cine de Terror Mexicano movement brings us eight different stories by eight unique Mexican voices spread out throughout the country. These stories bring to life the most brutally terrifying Mexican traditions and legends using modern film techniques.

All eight of the directors were given free rein to decide on the genre and style of film they’d want to make.

The first story, Tzompantli, is by Laurette Flores, a relative newcomer. It fits into the nota roja, or red note, story tradition of the horrifying practices of drug dealers and Satanists, as well as how they visit horror on normal people. This tale is about a gang of dealers who trace their traditions back to the Aztecs.

Jaral de Berrios by Edgar Nito, who recently made The Gasoline Thieves. His work also fits into the criminal side of horror, focusing on two thieves hiding in the ruins of Hacienda del Jaral de Berrios, which was once home to one of Mexico’s richest families before descending into dust.

Aaron Soto’s Drean (Drain) is a lesson as to why you should never smoke a joint that you find on a dead body. Trust me. It does not end well.

Isaac Ezban, who made The Similars, seems to be channeling the spirit of 1990’s VHS-era Mexico gore with his story La Cosa mas Preciada (That Precious Thing). A night of lovemaking in the woods turns incredibly disgusting, thanks to some local trolls. I would have loved to have seen this segment with a rowdy theater.

Lo Que Importa es lo de Adentro (What’s Important is Inside) is by Lex Ortega and concerns a special needs girl and the boogieman that she is sure is her building’s handyman.

Jorge Michel Grau is best known to American audiences for We Are What We Are. His story is Munecas (Dolls) and fits the slasher genre quite well, along with — of course — disturbing doll imagery. I’ve said it before and will say it many more times, but no one makes dolls more disturbing than Mexican filmmakers.

Ulises Guzman, who has worked as a stuntman, writer and even an editor, directed Siete Veces Siete (Seven Times Seven), which is about a ritual to bring back the guilty and make them pay after death.

Finally, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is by GiGi Saul Guerrero, who has acted in several films, as well as creating and directing the horror web series La Quinceanera. It’s pretty much an excuse for strippers to dress as skeletal creatures and murder their clients. Please don’t take that as a criticism, as this scene was very well shot and was quite entertaining. This scene was originally a short film shot in 2013.

Much like all modern anthology films, this is a mixed bag. There’s no link between the stories, other than the talent is all from Mexico. Maybe it will introduce you to some new filmmakers. Or you’ll be bored by it. It’s certainly better than the majority of the tossed together streaming movies that come up north just about every day.

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