By now we are all familiar with one of the biggest trends in horror cinema, the anthology. They are seemingly the quickest and easiest way to amalgamate a central vision and theme by dividing it up into chunks and letting multiple filmmakers hack away at short run stories. The Mexico Barbaro anthologies give locals the thrill of seeing urban legends and abuela's tales portrayed up on the screen. They give outsiders a peek into the dark underbelly of another culture. They also highlight the filmmaking skills of the Mexican horror community; who are as industrious, creative and entertaining as any other corner of the World.
Quality-wise all the short films are on point. No one flushed theirs down the toilet (waits for it…). Any separation that one chooses to make between them becomes merely subjective, what you liked and did not like. Then it all boils down to impressions. We can talk about standouts but that hardly seems fair to the filmmakers that did not make an impression then, does it? Still, when I look back over the eight individual short films I can find reason to like all of them. Like telling your kids, ‘I love you all, I just love some of you more than others’.
Barbaro starts off with Abraham Sánchez’s Juan the Soldier, a short about a soldier who was wrongfully charged with a crime and executed. Juan meets the Devil, makes a pact with him as most of us would do, then wreaks unholy and bloody justice on his persecutor and others there on after. This short features some excellent, excellent puppet work in the Devil and has a nice gory finish to it.
A pleasant surprise in this second edition was the amount of humor in some of the chapters. Exerting no control over the content of each short, Ortega only stipulated that each short be about something in the Mexican mythos culture and not repeat one from the first collection. Among the horror contributions three chapters were of the horror comedy variety.
Between the fourth wall breaking laughs in Fernando Urdapilleta’s Patzonalli, the hot in more ways than one amateur porn shoot in Fireballs from Christian Cueva and Ricardo Farias, and proving that young girls are the most evil of all in Carlos Meléndez’s It’s About Time, there are more laughs to be found in this second collection.
Never fear, each of these chapters still come with a healthy amount of gore and horror as well. Meléndez’s It’s About Time rivals Ortega’s Exodontia as one of the goriest of all the chapters with tremendous body horror elements
Titles that took on more serious tones were Diego Cohen’s interpretive Paidos Phobos, which impresses with standout photography and a blanched color pallette. It is moody and dark, attempting scares in its short run time. Sergio Tello’s Do Not Sleep felt the most raw to me. His tale of a young boy hearkening the words of his grandmother and her old wive’s tales is good. Only when compared with the others does it feel less. The most sophisticated, both in story and execution, was Michelle Garza’s Vitriol. Woman-strong and carrying themes of beauty worship and identity of self against the backdrop of gender roles and equality in the World today it is not only poignant but necessary to have horror shorts like these reach into our community with its message.
This second collection ends with Exodontia by series creator Lex Ortega. Ortega remains a distinct and individual voice in the horror world, delivering nightmarish visions laced with a kind of edgy static. This fucked up and gory version of the tooth fairy brings this second offering of Mexican horror cinema to a bloody close.
Good horror anthologies offer up a diversity of experiences, styles and messages, allowing for each director to share their individual voice with the audience. The experiences in the second Mexico Barbaro broaden to include a bit of comedy with the horror. Perhaps, pending levels of tolerance, there may not be enough scary moments in this second film but I believe the entertainment value in this second collection is better than the first one.
The horror quotient is high with a steady amount of violence and gore on screen. Diversity in the delivery means that Mexico Barbaro 2 stands a better chance of reaching more people. The less serious tone of this second chapter of this anthology series, by chance from the sound of it, stands to reach out to more types of horror fans than just the hardcore violence fans. There is enough going on in this eight films to satisfy everyone's needs.
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