Back in 2005 grindhouse maestro Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror, From Dusk Till Dawn) wrote a Spanish-language script about a satanic descent into the seedy Mexican underworld, where a sheepish exorcist and kick-ass cop are on the hunt for a bloodthirsty cult. The film was shelved and hasn’t seen the light of day, until now.
Curandero doesn’t bother to hit above its weight, it’s got a keen understanding of where it sits on the quality spectrum and embraces its low budget B-movie roots gleefully, spinning an ever-more gruesome web of black magic and gore. At points the film revels in its total lack of CGI but flips and starts flaunting some truly wobbly effects, but even then they arguably fit into the film snuggly. Eduardo Rodriguez has an obvious talent for filming this sort of thing, the gruesome and vicious come naturally to every frame. Some dodgy editing and bad lighting make viewing difficult during indoor scenes which it can sometimes be too dark to see what the hell is going on.
Carlos Gallardo’s reserved performance is a key reason why this film should be the beginning of a franchise: he can hold the screen without over-acting or seeming like he’s seeking out our attention. His enigmatic performance is why Curandero feels like a grimy Mexican equivalent of Constantine. The whole plot seems like an origin tale; unsure of what to do first, but that doesn’t hold it back too much.This film is focused on giving the viewer a great time whilst flaunting enough demonic imagery to make the more superstitious viewers have a heart attack.
Fast-paced, immersed in Mexican culture and superstitious iconography, yet drenched in gore and visceral sequences of violence, Curandero forsakes the straight path by shaking its tale of good vs evil up with acid-trip imagery and some intriguing style decisions. Hopefully the release of this B-movie extraordinaire will spawn a sequel.
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez
Stars: Carlos Gallardo, Gizeht Galatea, Gabriel Pingarron, Jose Carlos Ruiz, Jorge Zepeda