I heard about Cronos, Guillermo del Toro‘s first feature film, but never had a chance to watch it before. I just did and I have mixed feelings about it. I loved the story and the camerawork. But I was unimpressed with some of the actors and the makeup/special effects. The main character, who turns into something else than human, played by Federico Luppi, was not authentic for me, either as a loving grandpa/shopowner or as a reluctant bloodsucker. On the other hand the little girl who played his granddaughter (Tamara Shanath) and Ron Perlman, the brute bad guy, fit their parts fine.
They carried the story, which was slowly developing, sometimes surprising, other times magical, but always sad. Naming the main person, who in his own fashion ends up resurrecting, Jesus was an interesting choice. It hints at some of the religious themes of the movie, like the cronos device being hidden in a (statue of an) archangel, or naming the little girl “Aurora”. I hope somebody did an analysis of the role of religion in this film or del Toro’s other movies, because they are sure worthy for such an examination. Looking at the list of movies he directed (which is a shorter list than the movies he produced) I see that he has 7 movies out and the only one I haven’t seen is the most famous one: Pan’s Labyrinth. (The others are: Hellboy I/II, Blade II, The Devil’s Backbone and Mimic.)
It was kind of a new wave horror movie, paying tribute to oldschool films of the genre. The way blood was displayed and handled was stunning. The human’s transformation was not. Nevertheless it was good to see this movie that put in context for me del Toro’s later works and shown from where he developed. Plus, I always enjoy mystical elements in movies that are not shoved in your face.
* A note on the DVD cover you see here. This is not a picture from the movie. As a matter of fact there isn’t even any young woman in it. Too bad that the marketers, or whoever got the cover commissioned, thought that they need to use a sexist image for a non-sexist movie.
IMDB’s summary: In 1535, an alchemist builds an extraordinary mechanism encapsulated into a small golden device. The invention, designed to convey eternal life to its owner, survives its maker until 1997, when it shows up with an antiques dealer. Fascinated with the strange device, Gris (Luppi) doesn’t note that there’s more than one person looking for it. The promise of eternal life has become an obsession for old and sick Mr. De la Guardia (Brook). He and his nephew (Perlman) will do anything to get the Chronos Invention.