Thursday, October 17, 2013

In short: Curandero (2005)

This Mexican horror movie directed by Eduardo Rodriguez (him of the atrocious El Gringo) took ages to get proper distribution, despite being quite as hopeless than your usual low budget black magic movie, featuring El Mariachi Carlos Gallardo himself in the title role giving a not unexpected performance between wooden-facedness, machismo and a certain human fragility, and providing a generally non-horrible ninety minutes, unlike a lot of independent horror films of much lower quality that have no problems whatsoever finding distribution. If I were of an unfriendly bend of mind, I'd assume a film full of Mexicans speaking Spanish (the English language dub is of course horrible) and not wearing sombreros is just too much for certain people to take.

Curandero does have its problems, though. First and foremost among these is that Rodriguez seems to attempt to win the price for the most piss-coloured film made in the decade of piss-coloured films. It's a decision that really ruins any aesthetic attraction the film may have, with everything in it being either absolutely desaturated (blood in this pretty bloody movie is not red but dark brown like, well, crap) or yellow, yellow and yellow. People with yellow skin (seriously) walk under a yellow sky, through colourless and yellow locations. It's like a black and white movie made by someone who doesn't want to bother to think about the differences between light and dark and hates shadows, and it really costs the film most of an ability to build up any kind of coherent mood.

A coherent mood would be quite helpful for it too, for not all of the script's tonal shifts from black comedy to horror to the sort of Mexican direct-to-video fodder which usually starred one of the Galindo brothers and back again work quite as well as they should, giving the film a more disjointed feel than its comparatively straightforward plot would suggest. The film's pacing is, as they say, erratic, repeatedly going from slow and ponderous - with scenes that go on way too long (the problem of real low budget independent horror beside problematic acting in minor roles) - to semi-fast in a way that makes it difficult to get really excited about the film or lose oneself in it.

On the other hand, despite these flaws, Curandero had no problem in at least holding my interest, if only to see what slightly weird flourish Rodriguez would give the next scene, and what gory hallucination/vision its hero would have next. There's a basic low budget movie charm to Curandero's version of magic and the supernatural that makes it difficult to resist the film completely, and while I'd have thanked its director pretty fucking much for putting a bit of thought into the basics of its visual presentation, I can't say I didn't enjoy watching it on that level of my tastes that appreciates sudden outbreaks of surrealist gore even if it is yellow.

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