Curandero: Dawn of the Demon DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Directed by Eduardo Rodriguez
Written by Robert Rodriguez, Eduardo Rodriguez and Luz Maria Rojas
2005, Region 2 (PAL), 92 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 20th May 2013
Carlos Galllardo as Carlos
Gizeht Galatea as Magdalena
Gabriel Pingarron as Castaneda
Jose Carlos Ruiz as Don Carlos
Jorge Zepeda as Commandante
Sergio Acosta as Oscar
The lost Robert Rodriguez film – or is it? Demons, heaps of violence, exorcists and an odd use of eggs – it certainly sounds like the template for a Rodriguez movie. But Curandero was merely scripted by the Grindhouse maestro and friend of Quentin Tarantino. While it bears all the hallmarks of a RR flick, this is another fellow's show – step up Eduardo Rodriguez (no relation).
This Spanish language action/horror film is set in the deep dark depths of the Mexican crime underworld, where a desperate federal agent calls upon a local curandero (exorcist, to you and I) to help rid the city of its demons, both imagined and not. Add to the mix Mexican drug cartels, gang leaders and heaps of black magic, and you have a heady brew of ingredients which should make Curandero well worth your time. What follows is the film that Constantine should have been crossed with something a young Steven Seagal might have made, once upon a time. Also, eggs. Very important, apparently.
Low budget and fairly cheap looking, Curandero is bound to divide audiences. Its yellowed, dirty looks will annoy some, while others will champion it as authentic and atmospheric. Personally, I'm somewhere in between. While the grit and the grime often work in the film's favour, it does feel like just another in a long line that could do with maybe laying off the colour filters a little. The action, meanwhile, is haphazard and awkwardly placed. Firefights will break out in the middle of nowhere, and the film still manages to feel as though it's creeping (too slowly) along in no particular direction until the end. Some decent demon make-up and scenes of supernatural horror enliven things a little, but it's still slower and duller than it should be. Its insight into the world of a curandero is valued though, particularly in his use of eggs. A good indicator of whether a person is possessed, a versatile (and tasty) dish, and packed full of protein, to boot – the humble egg truly is the miracle food.
I'm trying to lay off reviewing it as a Robert Rodriguez film (which wouldn't be fair to its director, Eduardo) but some of his trademark pizazz wouldn't have gone amiss, and nor would a few cameos from his showbiz mates. If ever a movie was crying out for cameos from Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin, it's Curandero. Still, if it spares us the Crazy Babysitter Twins or the awful Freddy Rodriguez, we should be grateful.
For it does have an interesting story, engaging characters and a great setting. There are also a number of bloody good gore gags, exorcism sequences and nice use of practical effects. Mildly original, charmingly demented and inherently watchable, Curandero may not always be perfect, but it's still a lot better than most. For all of Eduardo's (not inconsiderable) input, Robert's fingerprints are smudged all over this. As sure as eggs is eggs, Curandero is a Robert Rodriguez movie. And a jolly good egg, at that.
Video and Audio:
It looks very yellow and even dustier. While I didn't mind this too much, it certainly won't be to all tastes. It sounds fine, unless you listen to the absolutely awful English dubbing.
There are no extras included on this disc.