Cronos (Day 58)
My Opinion: 6.9 || Good fantasy-horror fun, with a very entertaining premise and excellent balance of humor, chills, and tenderness. Wonderful economy in the storytelling too — not a wasted minute and the short run-time zips by before you know it.
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
LANGUAGE: Spanish | COUNTRY: Mexico
PROFILE: Fantasy Horror | 94 minutes | IMDb (6.7)
SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of IMDb): A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.
Strengths: This is Guillermo del Toro’s debut film. It’s less vigorously inventive than his later work (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone), but there’s a lot to be said for the movie’s compactness. The immortality device at the center of the story is imaginative, with an eerily convincing clock-like action and deliciously gothic origin story. And although the story itself is familiar fantasy-horror comfort food, del Toro seasons it perfectly and serves the genre turns with panache.
Significant too is the compassion that he maintains throughout the film for the protagonist, Señor Gris, who undergoes a series of grisly transformations. Although del Toro is happy to play with the comedic aspects of these situations, there’s an absence of the misanthropy that can afflict horror films.
Weaknesses: There are moments when del Toro dances dangerously close to the line that separates campy from silly. But he maintains such a fast pace that the weaker moments are quickly forgotten.
Characters/Performances: Ron Perlman pushes the campy envelope more aggressively than anyone but manages (just barely) to keep his character on the rails. Frederico Luppi is marvelous as Jesus Gris, moving smoothly through each stage of transformation and remaining both believable and sympathetic. Del Toro also pulls a very nice maneuver with Gris’ granddaughter Aurora: she’s shy but no weakling and utters only one word the entire film.
File Under: gothic, alchemy, the undead, immortality, mysterious discoveries