Satanic Hispanics - New Release Review
Directors: Mike Mendez, Demián Rugna, Eduardo Sánchez, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Alejandro Brugués
Starring: Efren Ramirez, Greg Grunberg, Jonah Ray Rodrigues, Jacob Vargas, Patricia Velasquez
Written by: Alejandro Mendez, Demián Rugna, Pete Barnstrom, Shadan Saul, Raynor Shima, Lino K. Villa
Produced by: Patrick Ewald, Mike Mendez, Alejandro Brugués, Katie Page
Cinematography by: Luke Bramley, Matthias Schubert
Original Score by: Pamela de Alba, Leonardo Escarcega, Gilde Flores, Beto Fortis, Pablo Isola, Blake Matthew, Kyle Newmaster, Herman Nunes, Michael Weber
A lone survivor found in the aftermath of a police raid in El Paso recounts tales of horror from his life including portals to the afterlife and demonic entities.
Horror anthologies are always a bit hit and miss and there's been so many released in recent years that very few of them leave a mark. 'Satanic Hispanics' scared the shit out of me and also made me belly laugh on multiple occasions so I think it's safe to say that this is one that I will definitely remember.
Directed by five leading hispanic filmmakers and featuring (mostly) hispanic talent behind the scenes as well as in front to the camera, 'Satanic Hispanics' is easily one of the funnest horror anthologies I've had the pleasure of watching in a very long time. Anthologies need to have a good balance during the body of the film, with each segment feeling fresh and a tight and satisfactory wrap around to finish the film off and 'Satanic Hispanics' ticks all these boxes. With five different filmmakers directing, tonally there's a surprising amount of consistency.
The opening and wrap around segment directed by Mike Mendez features Efren Ramirez as a character simply knowns as The Traveler, who is arrested and subsequently questioned by two detectives in the aftermath of a brutal killing spree. He was found chained at the crime scene and is the only survivor. The entire film revolves around him giving the detectives an explanation about who he is, why he is innocent and even more importantly why they have to let him go as soon as possible. This explanation acts as the body of the film and we revisit the interview room in between each segment. The detectives are played by Greg Grunberg and Sonya Eddy who are both fantastic if a little frustrating at times. Perhaps they are not the best detectives in the world but they allow the Traveler to say his piece for the purpose of the story.
The next segment is directed by Demián Rugna and features a man determined to find the cause of something haunting his inherited house. Something we don't see or fully understand until towards the end of the segment. There's a really cool jump scare in this story and some gruesome prosthetic work too, but it's the mystery behind what the man, and then later his visitor, sees that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Very creepy and a great start from the man behind 'Terrified'.
We then move onto a lighter toned and hilarious segment featuring an elderly vampire who is having way too much fun on Halloween night, the only night of the year where he can go out without the fear of being noticed in his cape and old fashioned apparel. 'El Vampiro' is played brilliantly by Hemky Madera and is directed by Eduardo Sánchez of 'The Blair Witch Project' fame. We follow El Vampiro as he struggles to make it back to this abode to unite with his younger, vampire lover after he gets confused about the time. Madera is just brilliant to watch and his comedy timing is spot on. This one completely took me by surprise as I wasn't really expecting all the silliness. It's a bit of a parody but it has a sweet ending and it really worked in providing a bit of levity before the next segment.
Gigi Saul Guerrero's 'Nahuales' is next up and this one definitely isn't comedy based. It's set in the Mexican rainforest and deals with an ancient shamanic cult. Although maybe not quite as engaging as some of the other segments, this was easily the most disturbing and the one that kinda turned my stomach a bit. The sequence towards the end that involves a ceremonial sacrifice is gory and terrifying.
The final segment before the wrap around follows Malcolm, a very normal white man in his 30s sporting a plaster on his eyebrow and some bruising on his cheeks, who has been summoned by his ex-girlfriend to dinner at one of their favourite restaurants. Except something is amiss and Malcolm is smarter than he looks. His girlfriend is actually a demon who has been slaying his group of friends for some time now because Malcolm recorded a secret ceremony on his phone he was asked not to record. It's hinted that maybe there might be a connection with the ceremony in the previous segment and Malcolm's secret recording and that the entity that is possessing his friends is potentially the same entity that is stalking the Traveler.
This was the perfect segment to run into the finale because it is just so wild and unpredictable and while it's full of awesome, ghoulish makeup effects it's another short that is laced with humour. It feels like Alejandro Brugués is making his version of 'Evil Dead II' here and Jonah Ray Rodrigues who plays Malcolm is definitely channelling some Bruce Campbell. If you're having doubts about that then wait until you find out what the 'The Hammer of Zanzibar' actually is. Shout out to Jacob Vargas as El Jefe, whose performance had me in bits.
The finale carries all the action and horror from Brugués' segment and wraps it all up in a nice wee ball. It sorta plays out a bit like a Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez shoot out. The big bad villain reveal is pretty riveting and a clear cultural homage to Latin America. Overall 'Satanic Hispanics' is a super thrilling and entertaining piece of horror and comedy with a gripping story and great special effects. A home run for sure.
- Gavin Logan
'Satanic Hispanics' is released in US theatres September 14th