Hey all. I’m back again with a vampire movie on the platter. Now before you all groan and chant “Seen it”, this is not your typical vampire movie and in fact is a whole other realm of magic, relics and wild happenings. So sit back in your seat, put your feet up and gaze in disbelief. This is Cronos.
Spoilers are made of many things…
Director/writer/producer Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone, Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army) weaves a story of 1535 Mexico, an alchemist creates a golden mechanical artifact that staves off the ravages of age, allowing the wearer almost infinite life and energy so long he or she is prepared to pay the price. Now in 1997, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi of Martin, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth) an antiques dealer in Mexico, who comes across a beetle-shaped golden trinket found in an old statue. While inspecting the item in question, it buzzes and whirls to life, sprouting claws and digs into his hand deep. The next day Jesus feels stronger and more energetic than he had in years, a notion he attributes to the artifact now embedded in his flesh. No sooner does this newly found vitality come about as does a thirst, a craving for human blood. Methinks this gift needs a refund option. Down this new found passage of self-discovery he learns of a malicious millionaire Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook of The Exterminating Angel, Simon of the Desert, Miroslava and Valentina) stricken with disease and old age he is obsessed with the tales and writings of the Cronos invention along with his brute of a nephew Angel (Ron Perlman of Beauty and the Beast, Absolon, Blade II, Hellboy, Mutant Chronicles, The Job, I Sell the Dead, Acts of Violence and Conan the Barbarian) who simply wishes dear Uncle would drop dead and give him the business. Jesus fears that he will soon be a threat to his granddaughter who he dearly loves as he is warping away from the good man he was.
And now I would like to mention a quick, few tidbits on the cinematography itself. Toro’s usage of winding visual and clockwork title card introduction is something of a patent for him. As most of his films are based in sci-fi fantasy, horror and the conglomerate of both, it is a unique signature as well as the need for orchestra music building momentum and suspense. Most of the camera work is hand held and with such precision down a winding staircase and such attention to detail that you get the feeling he truly is a storyteller around a campfire rather than a director.
How his gothic take on most of his films gets compared to Tim Burton’s work can only be attributed that Cronos was released in 1993 after Burton successes of Beetlejuice, Batman and Edward Scissorhands and therefore people feel Toro lifted the same feel for his own. I would have to disagree and find while similar that Toro’s work unfolds with a subtle grace and is more dialogue and action driven, while Burton’s work tends to come off as kooky or obtuse. And considering how many bloody remakes Burton has been in hand with, I am not a huge fan. Following in the facet of Hitchcock like many other current directors, Toro appears as small bit characters in his films but never a top bill one. He is behind the scenes if you will and frequently has actors of previous film projects to come back as often as he can get them. To this date, Ron Perlman has done 4 films with him thus far and I dare say it is only the beginning. So if you care for an exquisite take on an old legend with little to mild gore then I would dare say put this in your Netflix.