Mexico Barbaro II (barbarous Mexico 2) is a horror anthology successor to Mexico Barbaro (also a horror anthology , but that’s probably obvious) And it played the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. Which, I am covering remotely (because i am a shut in). As with the last MB, I will review each segment individually. Let’s get into it!
“La Leyenda De Juan Soldado” starts the anthology off with a bang as a soldier accused of some heinous wrongdoing is shot down in a stretch of desert that may be a direct link to hell. The commanding officer and his underlings present for the execution may not be done with the man after all. Rather, the man may not be done with them.
This film is snappy and efficiently paced to great effect. No shot is wasted. It packs a lot into its tiny runtime. It features some cool (if markedly low rent) creature design, a despicable character, and a dreadful finale.
“Paidos Phobos” is about a woman living in apparent fear of whatever she has locked up in the upstairs bedroom. The voice on the other side of the door refers to her as mommy, but if she’s just a kid, why is mom so afraid of her? The answer comes in an expository dream sequence. But what is mom to do now?
This segment builds a lot of intrigue and tension, but the payoff is a bit of a letdown. Especially, considering it is written/directed by a man. (you’ll see what i mean when you see it) It’s not bad, it’s just might dip too near to triteness to truly honor its subject matter. (i’m thinking more and more that male writers/directors should avoid certain topics altogether. just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.)
“Potzonalli” focuses on a mother and her 3 children who prepare a meal as they wait for dad to come home. It doesn’t go well for dad who is an abusive asshole.
This segment is built on an objectively skin-crawling premise – a monstrous patriarch. When the guy shows up, the audience sees him for what he is. A pig. When he gets his comeuppance, we should be cheering. And we are to some degree, but our feelings of vengeful triumph are somewhat dampened by the really weird dynamic among the victims of the man. It’s a fun segment, but it may go off the rails for some viewers. Especially those annoyed by 4th wall breakage.
“Bolas de Fuego” is a found footage supernatural horror comedy (ish) short about a couple of horny dudes who hire a couple of women to have sex with them while they record the encounters. It quickly becomes apparent that the women are in control. And they’re not quite what they seem.
This one was a little too goofy for my tastes. The amateurish editing and effects were appropriate to the kids-with-a-camera setup, but it took me out of the story too much. And the story wasn’t much to start with.
“Vitriol” features a morose woman drifting through her apartment in a way that hints at some intense fear of what’s beyond her walls. She takes some drastic steps to change her appearance and invites a man over for an intense interaction over a glass of wine.
This was the strongest segment of the lot. Tension is built wordlessly for much of the film to great effect. The woman (sorry, i don’t know the actor’s name and IMDb isn’t helping) portrays her trauma perfectly. When she undergoes her self-inflicted metamorphosis, we feel deep sympathy for her. And the finale puts pieces in place that further cement our sympathies. Amazingly effective for a short film!
“No te Duermas” means “don’t you sleep” (i think) and centers on a kid who’s recently departed grandmother gave him grave warnings about every little thing. “Don’t go to sleep thirsty”, “a spider will crawl in your nose if you don’t clean your room”, and so on. His dad assures him that grandma was full of shit, but maybe she wasn’t.
This one reminded me most of the original Mexico Barbaro in that it seems to focus on legends or folklore. I liked that it was relatable in the way grandma’s words stuck with the kid even if she only meant them as a way to keep the kid hydrated and his room cleaned and whatnot. It has some creepy imagery and great high contrast photography, but the payoff seems a bit hokey. Possibly just because there is some very low budget creature design involved. But, if you can look past that, it brings the nostalgic scares rather well.
“Ya es Hora” is about a couple of girls who have been shunned by the local “mean girl” and her minions. The girls decide to take revenge by summoning a… demon? Maybe they just place a hex. Either way, it doesn’t work out so well for the shunners.
This is a fun little gross-out tale of revenge. It is about time mean girls got blown up! Or maybe that’s a bit much. Maybe that’s the lesson of the story – be careful what you wish for. But, honestly, it’s hard to tell. Sure, one of the hexxers is definitely aware that if their efforts prove fruitful, then they’ve gone too far. But viewers never really get an idea of what the consequences are for them after they kill a bunch of middle-school girls. Oh well. Kids are awful to each other. What’s a few supernaturally murdered kids anyway? (i mean, in the grand scheme of things)
“Exodoncia” is about addiction. In particular, it’s about a woman’s heroin addiction and the horrific ways that it is destroying her humanity – both physically and mentally. The physical deterioration goes beyond what is typical for an addict. And it’s self-inflicted. It’s pretty gruesome.
This one features some gut-wrenching self-harm. Nightmarish really. There’s some kind of fishnet stockings and gas mask wearing hallucination (or demon maybe) goading the woman into terrible self-harm that will not be for everyone. Once again, the creature design is extremely low budget, but this one is rough even among the other segments of the anthology. But that’s certainly not a deal-breaker. If Hostel is torture porn, then this one is self-torture porn. Body horror by way of an infinitely bleak after-school special.
The Final Cut: As with most anthologies, Mexico Barbaro II hits some high notes and some off-pitch notes. The ratio isn’t as good as it was with the original installment, but it’s good enough for me to root for another one. Definitely worth checking out for “Vitriol” alone.