Monday, June 03, 2019

Muerte: Tales of Horror – review

Director: Christopher Ambriz

Release date: 2018

Contains spoilers

Muerte: Tales of Horror is a portmanteau film that mostly felt custom made but is actually a stitching together of a few shorts all directed by Christopher Ambriz. I said mostly as the chronology around the events (especially given actor/character overlap) felt a little off. However mostly it isn’t a bad indie effort – strong story originality and some pretty good gore effects for an indie give the film strength, whereas cinematography and some of the performances let it down.

the comic
The wraparound is concerned with a group of girls who intend to get revenge on a boy, Carter (Michael Jay Anthony Salinas), for one of the girls, Spencer (Maggie Stubbins), and go to a magic store to buy spell ingredients to that end. Also in the store is Zak (Eric Lee Delagarza), who has been sent to steal divining gear (a mat and crystal) for Carter. He also steals a comic – entitled Muerte – and the shorts are from the comic and somehow the stories, when read, project into the real world. The segment we are interested in is called the Date though there is genre interest (at the very least) in other sections.

Will McCann as Matt
So, set in the near future, the Date sees bartenders Matt (Will McCann) and Roy (Eric De Los Santos) ejecting a drunk woman from the bar. Back behind the bar they watch three women come in: Katie (Katie Loftin), Lori (Jessica Lee Golden) and Ashley (Ashley Lopez Delagarza). After some snarkyness with Lori, Ashley leaves and Katie goes to the bar. She and Matt hit it off and, when Lori turns her attention to another patron (Peter M. Howard), Katie gives Matt her number and they arrange to go on a date the next night.

Katie attacks
We see the two prep to go and eventually decide on Italian but when the pizza comes Katie nearly chokes – due to the garlic (Matt assumes an allergy). She runs off and phones Ashley who is in the middle of drinking two women – Ashley suggests that Katie return to Matt and have a drink. She does this and takes Matt off to somewhere private and then sinks her teeth in. There seems to be blood at first but quickly she is sucking on something green and not palatable. He is a machine, it turns out, she manages to rip his face to circuitry and metal below.

revealed as a robot
He seems unaware of his nature but his programming kicks in and he goes into attack mode, recognising her as a vampire. She is staked and dies. Roy comes in – he is Matt’s handler and explains that he is a cyborg, designed for vampire hunting. Later, as he fights his own programming, we discover that his wife and child were drunk by Lori and he, himself, shot by her. The vampires (unaware that Matt is a machine) want revenge for Katie and he is being sent out for the next hunt…

Whilst the blood before green gunk didn’t make much sense (either it would be one or the other one feels), this was actually a nice little twist on the genre. The gore effects were very well done and Katie Loftin was particularly natural when it came to her performance (though others were perhaps a lot stagier). The vampires in this die through staking, can be slowed by blessed bullets and poisoned by garlic. Crosses will ward them and a staking with a cross causes the flesh to slough from the bones.

Mario Aguilar as the Cucuy
The other interesting aspects of the overall film were the inclusion of the Hispanic bogeyman creature the Cucuy (Mario Aguilar). In this appearing to be somewhat of a sineater (through the eyes), he is depicted with crooked fangs and we do see a vampiric style neck-bite. Not a vampire as such but interesting nonetheless. The segment Mirror also sees a possessed/curse mirror that causes a narcissistic stupor to overcome the owner who also becomes murderous as the mirror desires blood – making it somewhat of a vampiric object.

vamp face
Those segments aside, as I mentioned at the head of the review the film is rather original and it is entertaining – though stitching the bits together feels a tad confusing. The gore effects are well done for an indie production but many of the actors are somewhat stiff and stagy (exceptions notwithstanding). If you bear in mind the very budget nature of this it isn’t bad and certainly deserves 5 out of 10. Tightening up the story connection and some stronger performances would have pushed this upwards, as would slicker cinematography.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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