Dirs. Alejandro Brugués, Mike Mendez, Demián Rugna, Gigi Saul Guerrero, & Eduardo Sánchez (2022)
An anthology featuring Hispanic directors, actors, and crew dive deep into folklore and culture to tell five interweaving stories about demons, zombies, vampires, and a whole lot of ass-kicking.
Anthology movies can be hard to parse at times. For every V/H/S there are dozens of V/H/S: Virals. Satanic Hispanics aims to be part of the first group by bringing together five of the most respected Hispanic names in horror and, for the most part, it succeeds in its attempt. Not all of the stories hit as well as the others, as is often the case with anthology films, but there's something to be enjoyed from each of them and several of the shorts are truly excellent.
The film starts off as the police are raiding a house in El Paso, Texas, wherein a group of Latinos are hiding out after being snuck into the country by a coyote. The only problem? All but one of them are dead. The only survivor, who calls himself The Traveler, is taken into custody and questioned, where he begins to weave supernatural tales of suspense and horror to explain himself and the mysterious artifacts in his possession. The Traveler, directed by Mike Mendez, is the wraparound story of the film, an entertaining story about a man who may be immortal and who helps to tie together all of the other entries in the anthology. It's wrapped up at the end of the film, of course, in a badass finale that is reminiscent of The Saint of Killers from Preacher.
The first "regular" entry in the story is Tambien Lo Vi (I Saw It Too), directed by Demián Rugna of Terrifier fame, is the story of a man who is able to summon the spirits of people who are about to die with algorithms he uses to solve Rubik's cubes. Much like Rugna's previous work, Tambien Lo Vi is frightening and bloody, with specters that are both hard to look at and impossible to ignore. Rugna is immensely talented, though it is a bit worrying that this short is extremely similar to his famous feature. Arguably the best part of Tambien Lo Vi is that it's going to get more folks to watch Terrifier, one of the scariest movies in recent memory.
The next short is El Vampiro, directed by Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) and starring Queen of the South's Hemky Madera is by far the best of the bunch. The goofy and gory story of a vampire who accidentally finds himself on the wrong side of sunrise after forgetting about Daylight Savings Time is hilarious, a perfect palate cleanser after Rugna's gorefest. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of gore to be had here too: the vampire rips heads from bodies and hearts from chest with the best of them. It's his riotous ride down main street on a Segway, however, that steals the show.
Up next is Gigi Saul Guerrero's Nahuales, in which a man who is working with the US government finds himself caught by native spiritualists while trying to survive until extraction. The effects are excellent in this one, and Guerrero's folk horror tale is good, though a bit convoluted. This is one that would have perhaps benefitted from a longer runtime, as it feels like there's a bit missing from the story to make it complete. It's excellently acted and shot, however, so it's definitely one you won't want to miss.
The final story (before the resolution of the wraparound) is The Hammer of Zanzibar, by director Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead). This was my second favorite of the film, a clever and unique tale about a demon and the tool that vanquishes her. That's a pun, but you'll have to watch the film to find out why. While the short goes a bit nuts and runs a little on the longer side, it's funny, charming, and with enough folk underpinning to keep the horror side of you entertained.
As a whole, Satanic Hispanics is a decent anthology that does a great job of showcasing Hispanic talents within the horror community. While it doesn't hit on all cylinders, there are some true gems within that are fantastic in their own right. Overall, the shorts are good, but if the only thing you take away from the film is that you should look closer at the directors' individual works, Satanic Hispanics will have done its job. It's funny, brutal, and a fantastic reminder that there's a hell of a lot of talent coming from Central and South America. It's also added a few films to my watchlist that I might have otherwise missed.
Who this movie is for: Horror anthology fans, Mexican horror aficionados, People with an interest in horror but with short attention spans
Bottom line: While Satanic Hispanics isn't all hits, there's plenty here for everyone to enjoy. The comedic bits hit the hardest, and there's some better than average gore in a few of the shorts as well. Mendez, Guerrero, Brugués, Sanchez, and Rugna are all fantastic directors, and while the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, it's still a fantastically made and compelling anthology that is well worth your time. Check it out in theaters starting September 14th.