Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cronos (1993)

Cronos is the feature film debut of now household name Guillermo Del Toro. The film begins with narration stating that in the 16th century an alchemist developed the Cronos Device which is a mechanism that enables its user to eternal life. Centuries later a building collapses and a man with ugly, discolored marbled skin lay dying. The device had not been reclaimed until an old antique dealer discovers it in the base of an old statue in his shop. He quickly finds that there are people out there hellbent on finding the device at any cost. After an accidental encounter with the Scarab the antique dealer quickly develops a taste for blood, and has to find out the truth of what is happening to him.

Cronos, at its core, is a horror film. The meat of the story is an elderly man dealing with a type of Vampirism, however Guillermo Del Toro gives us so much more than that. The director of such recent hits as Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth gives us much more than that. It is relationships, between the old antique dealer and his young granddaughter who idolizes him and all he does and a dying businessman desperate to get his hands on the Cronos Device and his greedy nephew who is anxious for him to die to get his fortune. All of the performances are believable and solid, Ron Perlman is great in the violently sadistic nephew of the businessman. And without so much as a single line in the movie Tamara Shanath evokes so much emotion as the granddaughter. There is one scene in particular where she hands her grandfather a towel, after the effects of the device are setting in that makes your heart break.

Cronos has a lot to say but its also a simply fun ride. Del Toro was 28 when he made this film and few others can say they made a truly beautiful and equally haunting film that transcends genres at such a young age. This will satisfy the horror fans, but just as so, the art house crowd. Its refreshing to see a director with such talent and vision not use the horror and fantasy genre to break in to Hollywood, but to stay with it because that is what they love.


PS- The Criterion Collection release of this film has a (among many others) special feature in which Del Toro gives us a tour of his "man cave"... a house that houses all of his collections and fanboy stuff. It was incredibly fun to watch... but it will probably make you very jealous.

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