Guillermo Del Toro's stylish and original take on the vampire legend is one of the most strangely overlooked and underrated films of the 1990's. It's films like this that make me want to watch films - films that are fresh, unpredictable and so rich in symbolism that it has leaves lots of room for discussion. Del Toro was little more than an amateur director at the time this made, but in spite of that he's more than given the professionals a run for their money. Every scene is adeptly filmed, and the way that Del Toro makes contrasts between locations and the two central families is a pleasure to observe. The way that the film switches language from English to Spanish and back again is indicative of the fact that this is a rich tapestry of contradictions and one that makes intelligent comments on many subjects, from obvious ones such as addiction, to more concealed ones, such as a commentary on family; stemming from the way that the roles of child and parent become reversed when our hero becomes afflicted with the vampire-like curse. For the story, Del Toro has taken the classic vampire theme and mixed it with essences of mechanics and the human lust of being able to live forever. The story follows Jesús Gris, an antique dealer that lives with his granddaughter Aurora and wife Mercedes. One day, our hero happens upon a mechanical scarab that latches itself onto his palm, causing him to bleed. Jesús slowly gets addicted to the mystical scarab, but there's someone else that wants it and will stop at nothing to get it. The mythology of the scarab is told in a great opening sequence that sets the viewer up for an intriguing and original horror story. The film retains the intrigue that it sets up in it's intro for the duration, and Del Toro ensures that his audience is always left guessing and wanting to see what comes next. The film works due to interesting characters that the audience is able to feel for, and is constantly interesting by the way that Del Toro handles the contrasts that the story presents. On the whole, this is a fabulous horror story that takes an existing legend and makes it it's own. This is exactly the sort of film that cinema needs more of; and it's not one that film fans will want to miss. Highly recommended viewing.
A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.
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May 18, 2019