Cronos (1993) Review

I saw this many years ago after seeing it on Siskel and Ebert. I didn’t feel like this was a horror film and I still don’t. Del Toro has a great imagination, but may lack the ability to create suspense like some of his contemporaries. His horror films are interesting visually, but  most of them (with maybe one exception) are low in tension.

Cronos plays out like an extended Twilight Zone episode. It moves at a very deliberate pace. The film drags a little even coming in at about 87 minutes (without credits). Pacing and editing can definitely have an effect on humor. The attempts at black humor by American actor Ron Perlman mostly fall flat.

The film does have a good heart, though, and the core of the film is the relationship between the protagonist and the granddaughter. It is a clearly told story even if its not the most interesting take on vampires. It is somewhat original, though.

The story is not a traditional vampire story. This one involves an alchemist who creates a device to extend his life considerably, but there is a price as there always is. Eventually, by fate, the device ends up in the hands of an elderly man who almost immediately discovers the device’s hidden secret. The elderly man begins to regain some of youth’s vitality along with the slow realization that the device can bring him even bring him back from the dead.

The only others that are aware of this are his granddaughter and a dying man who has been searching for the device for quite some time. He sends his brutish nephew  (Perlman) to retrieve the device for him. Hijinks ensue, but of the slow European style of storytelling (or is that Central American style?).

You can see Guillermo trying to tie some symbolic motifs into the story visually despite the budgetary limitations. The battle between Jesus and Perlman’s thug occurs in front of a giant clock. It’s not the most impressive clock design (or the most impressive fight choreography), but you see what the director is shooting for.

He is a director that seems to continue to get better with each film. This was a pretty good beginning. Not the most impressive directorial debut, but far from a failure, either.

3.5 of 5


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