In 1536, in Veracruz, Mexico, during the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious and sophisticated device named Cronos to provide eternal life to the owner. In the present days, the antiques dealer Jesus Gris finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his granddaughter Aurora. He accidentally triggers the device and soon his wife Mercedes and he note that he has a younger appearance. Out of the blue, the stranger Angel de la Guardia visits Gris's shop and buys the old statue. On the next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel's card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel that introduces him to the eccentric millionaire De la Guardia that explains the healing power and the eternal life given by Cronos. Angel is sent by De la Guardia to hunt down Gris to get Cronos no matter the costs. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Severely underrated on this website, Cronos is an engaging tale that captivates the viewer for the entirety of its duration. Guillermo Del Toro's first ever film is a thoughtful, heart-wrenching story which above all manages to be fresh, intriguing and unique while managing to captivate the feel of horror films in the same mould as The Shining, whereby it is a film about family first, and a horror film second.
Cronos is most definitely not associated with the slasher end of the horror market and nor is it anywhere near the filthy attack on the sense provided by goreography. What Cronos manages to achieve is an attack on the mind and the soul, the essence of what a horror film must succeed in doing if it wishes to leave a lasting impression. Given this I can, to an extent, see where the mediocre rating has derived from, it's not a blood fest it doesn't provide a scare a second and nor does it have gratuitous scenes of eyes being gauged out by rusty pick axes, but as every true horror fan knows is these are merely sideshow attractions to the superior horror films like The Shining, like The Fog, and Cronos if not completely at the top, is very close indeed.
There are three things which notably stand out about this film and make it undoubtedly worth watching. The most subtle is the commentary on US-Mexico relations that Guillermo Del Toro has littered throughout his film. It provides an interesting portrayal into how he, and undoubtedly many Mexicans, feel about their encounters with the US, that they are always trying to be dominated and they must stand up on their own, to strive to succeed. The most obvious is that of the highly notable Christian references and intentional name play. Our protagonist, the antique dealer, is named Jesus for simple reincarnate issues, but there a great deal of "my God", "my Lord" and more comments of that ilk in the film, there is undoubtedly a side plot on the directors behalf of pointing out the good that still emanates from our protagonist. Jesus' granddaughter and wife are named Aurora and Mercedes respectively, and by knowing the meanings of their names which are "the dawn or first light" and "mercy" provides the films finale with a sense of completion. Lastly of note is the acting on the part of Federico Lupi and Tamara Shanath, who provide the necessary gravitas even in motion if not through vocals to convey the deep emotional tie between grandfather and granddaughter which when all else is removed is the main driving force of this story, and the one that will have you coming back for more. It's innocence is soul-wrenching, yet Aurora's ability to see what is happening with unclouded eyes, provides the cornerstone for the emotional drama to take hold.
One critic in 'The Daily Telegraph' claimed this to be as "scary as hell", and to be honest he is wrong. This film isn't scary in the 'popping out from behind the bushes with a meat cleaver' manner, this film is an attack of that which makes us, and indeed Jesus, human. It is a cerebral assault which plucks at your heart strings and confuses the soul, and for it is severely likable and very watchable while occasionally disconcerning. Cronos is human drama at its most wonderful, emotional and chilling and more importantly a wonderful debut by a director who will build in stature and promise greater things, but this is a debut with bite to it, and once it grabs hold of you, it's very difficult to get it off.
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