MEXICO BARBARO (2014)
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Mexican anthology horror has eight short stories told by eight different Mexican directors and despite how intriguing that sounds, sadly the flick is a disappointment, overall. There are definitely some effective moments and there are some disturbing and spooky sequences peppered throughout, but none of the stories really stands out or grabs you as a whole. There is also a startling lack of variety in tone and telling, almost negating the effect that it is made by eight different filmmakers. Very few tales seem to really go anywhere and a couple of stories seem to just exist for the sake of being gross, vulgar or perverse…or all of the above. Maybe a lack of deep understanding of Mexican culture or folklore may have hindered the enjoyment of some of these tales, but a well told story should still make it’s point and have effect regardless of cultural differences.
As a side note…It was interesting in how women are portrayed in some of the tales. There seems to be some attempt at social commentary about the abuse and mistreatment of women in the final tale called Día de los Muertos, though earlier in the anthology that message is seriously contradicted when the mistreatment is portrayed in an almost gleeful manner such as in La cosa más preciada, about the gruesome loss of one pretty teen’s virginity by a strange creature. Not only is pretty Valeria (Sara Camacho) raped repeatedly by this horrid being, she is also vulgarly accosted by two vile gas station attendants earlier on. Her final fate almost seems to be played as a joke. Valeria never seems to be treated as a human being at any point of the story, even her eager boyfriend just seems to be concerned with getting in her pants. In other tales women are portrayed in a number of unflattering ways, too, as either victims, bitches, killers, or murderous spirits…as in the film’s most effective story, Jaral de Berrios. In Lo que importa es lo de adentro, a mother is cruel and verbally abusive to her handicapped daughter while languishing affection over her son. Not sure if this is an attempt at some overall commentary about how women are treated or viewed in Mexican society or something that happened through happenstance, but it was troubling to see how women were portrayed by the different filmmakers or the implications of how they are viewed by their culture. I found this aspect of the film perhaps more interesting than the film itself.
There were high hopes for this, but, overall, it was a disappointment. There are some shocking and disturbing moments and some spooky bits, but the film seems more about violence, gore…which is abundant and well done…and some unsettling perversity. That would all be fine if it’s stories were more involving and effective, instead of just being violent, vulgar and gross for the most part. Perhaps a little more variety in tone and story would have improved this a bit, but the films could have been all made by the same director, which is the most disappointing aspect of all, as one hoped to see at least a few promising talents among those assembled.