Eight Mexican directors give their versions of Mexican myths and traditions. The result is a variety of horrific, violent, surreal and quirky horror shorts compiled under the name "México Bárbaro". Be ready to meet everything from weird trolls to vicious strippers.
"México Bárbaro" compiles horror short films from Mexican filmmakers. There are eight short films and eight filmmakers, and while you probably won't know it you've probably seen the work of a few of these. Jorge Michel Grau made the fairly popular "We Are What We Are" and a segment in "The ABCs of Death", Lex Ortega has been involved as a producer in some of Adrián García Bogliano's work, and Aarón Soto surreal cyberpunk short "Omega Shell". These are probably the most probable things you've heard of, but they all have a number of things under their belt so you have the potential of having seen more. Together they have put together the classic and fun idea to take the traditions and myths of the home country and make horror shorts about them. That's what this anthology is.
The anthology starts pretty weak with the entries "Tzompantli" by Laurette Flores Bornn and "Jaral de Berrios" by Edgar Nito, so I will keep this paragraph fairly short. They are not both specifically bad short films, but they don't offer much that you will remember. In the case of "Tzompantli", I can't really say much because it felt like it didn't have a build up, and then something kinda happened in a gang fights of sorts, and then it was over. A compentent short on a technical level but it's a weak start for this anthology. There are some moments in the latter of the two that piques your interest a few times and it is the longest of the shorts in here, but it doesn't really pull you in. It has a succubus-esque plot that is just a bit too familiar. I'll give it to them for having quite solid cinematography that speaks to my artsier side at times though.
Aarón Sato's "Drena" finally gets you interested by having a completely bizarre premise. During a drug trip, a young woman is visited by a strange naked creature that tells her that she has to drain her sister's vagina of blood, and if she doesn't then she will get the souls sucked out of her ass. You probably feel that this short took a sudden turn to something silly. I'd agree, but it's also important to note that there are a few shorts included that go towards the ridiculous and perhaps it's a cultural thing. Sometimes they are handled with complete care so that it doesn't get over-the-top (such is the case with "Drena"), but sometimes it's just weird and stupid (you'll hear more about that later). "Drena" is very basic in that it's about a woman and her sister in an apartment, and she has a weird act to perform somehow. I don't think this stands out as something great, but it certainly has you curious about how it will develop. Unfortunately the final shot is again back to the silly.
"La cosa más Preciada" by Isaac Ezban is the weird and stupid short I mentioned in the last paragraph. Lovers are going to a cabin to spend some romantic time together. They're told that they can't go outside or leave any belongings outside of the cabin at night. As night comes and they are about to go down to business, a troll arrives and kidnaps the woman. She's dragged into the woods where she is raped by the troll's monster-sized cock. This is definitely not a good short film, but it absolutely wakes you up from semi-awareness that you've been in during the 3 past shorts. This is as "what the fuck" as the movie gets, and it's up to you if that's a good thing. Personally, I don't fucking know. It's stupid and it knows it.
The next short film is probably the most disturbing content-wise (unless troll cocks disturb you a lot). I'm trying to hold on to spoilers, but quickly described Lex Ortega's "Lo que importa es lo de adentro" mixes illegal organ trade, child kidnapping and cannibalism. The movie ends in a pretty gory and is most likely the closest to what many of you were hoping for in an anthology like this (what with anthologies aiming more and more at being shocking). Perhaps this will quench your thirst for a bit!
The one that visually interested me the most was Jorge Michel Grau's black and white "Muñecas", but it might also be the second most uninteresting story-wise. While I love the photography and I don't mind a slowly revealing plot, this falls flat when it goes from its mysterious opening to a somewhat bland serial killer plot. Despite that, I maintain that this is one of the better shorts simply due to the pleasant change of getting a black and white short that's pretty to look at in the middle of these short films.
In "Siete veces siete", by Ulises Guzman, we're treated to the story that intrigues the most. Its execution is sometimes a bit wonky. It's about a man who steals a body from a morgue, and goes out to a desolate lake. He starts performing a ritual that will bring back the body to life - but not for the reasons you expect. Once back to life, he kills him again. I like this plot, it's perfect for a short film and it keeps you guessing. What sometimes doesn't work are random dreams that don't seem to add much (maybe in a feature there would be room for it, but in a short it seems pointless to drive it forward). There are also a few moments where it feels like it's standing still and you kinda drift away while watching it. Still, it remains as one of the strongest segments in here.
As there is just one short film left, you might guess that it's the one that appears on many of the posters. Gigi Saul Guerrero's "Día de los Muertos" takes place in a strip club where the strippers perform in Day of the Dead make-up. The short is very slim on content, but it does have a bunch of half-clothed women in skull make-up killing men. It's okay. It's the last few minutes in the anthology and while it's certainly not an impressive end, it's a typical short film that you're expected to find in all modern horror anthologies: short, light on story and violent.
Ultimately, "México Bárbaro" is a little bit of everything. It has the more artsy shorts, some nudity, it has the violent and gory, and it has the weird "what the fuck am I watching?" shorts. There isn't much else to expect from it. It's not great, but I was watching it with friends we weren't completely bored (which seems rare nowadays). It's okay. You'll probably get something out of it, at the very least.