‘Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon’ is a difficult movie to assess because, originating from Mexico, it is immersed in a culture with which I’m not familiar to any extent. Before we begin, a curandero is a type of faith healer, probably a combination of Aztec native culture and the Spanish Catholicism which was imposed in the 16th century and, I suppose, unless you have been living in that culture for some time, it would be very difficult to understand what it’s all about. Only a native Mexican would be able to comprehend the superstitions and fears that a movie of this nature would impart but, even from an outsider’s point of view, it’s possible to offer an opinion. After all, with this movie originally made eight years ago, now released on DVD, it is intended for a much wider audience than Mexico so it should be possible to offer a relevant opinion.
Anyone familiar with news from Mexico will understand that a war is going on between drug barons with many casualties reported on a weekly basis, casualties terrible in nature where not even women and children are spared. It is into this scenario that curandero travels into a supernatural world which is both surreal and horrific. There are three main characters in this movie, directed by Eduardo Rodriguez. Carlos the curandero, Magdalena the policewoman and Castaneda the drug baron. Castaneda, an evil warlord with a massive following of corruption ruled by fear, immerses himself in black magic and bloodshed. He has a connection to Magdalena which becomes clear as the movie progresses. Carlos is rather laid-back and non-committal, playing down superstition and relying on science. His father, also a curandero, had apparently died but he was far more astute than his son. Magdalena had a mysterious past and was once saved by the father of Carlos when she was only five.
Castaneda had been captured by the police but had only been held in jail for one day. Magdalena had called on Carlos to use his powers to purify the police station which was a scene of absolute carnage. It’s into this scenario that the movie emerges. Carlos finds that his abilities amplify as time goes on and is able to look behind the scenes to see reality. People appear as demons of all types and descriptions, albeit briefly, and he can look into the future to see dangers that lie ahead.
There are more killings, with corpses hanging from the ceiling dripping in blood, the intestines falling out with skin shredded to pieces. Yes, be prepared for scenes on butchery far worse than anything you would see in, say, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. Don’t look at this if you’re squeamish in any way. Castaneda, very difficult to pin down, seems to have powers beyond imagination, far too much for Carlos to cope with and when the latter becomes romantically attached to Magdalena he must save her from danger and from the clutches of the drug baron intent on using her in his quest to become immortal. Carlos finds his father and is empowered by belief and ability to do greater things.
On the run from corrupt police and from the soldiers of Castaneda, Carlos and Magdalena try to escape without success, leading to a final showdown. It becomes a battle between good and evil, between Carlos and the black magic of Castaneda. The black magic baron is surrounded by death, everything he touches turning to the bad side of life. Who would win this battle?
As mentioned, because this was made for a different culture, it’s not possible to fully understand and appreciate the fears and superstitions imparted by the proceedings. Viewing from a distant angle, some of it comes through as mumbo-jumbo and the surreal nature of events doesn’t have a spiritual connection. However, overall it’s a good story and a classic battle between right and wrong, light and dark and good and evil. Polemic in nature, widely polemic at that, it is a dip into a well of evil but will Carlos be able to pull you out and save your soul?
Not over familiar with Mexican movies, this was a new experience. Used to Americanised scripts and their predictable format, it’s a change to see something different. The special effects are quite good, especially when people are transformed into the real daemonic selves that possess them and the storyline, while a bit staccato in form, is understandable and satisfying in the end. For that reason, ‘Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon’ can be recommended but only for a specific audience.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd B00BM8WAL6. 1 DVD 92 minute film. Price: £ 9.00 (UK))
check out website: www.lionsgatefilms.co.uk
Please Note: This film is in Spanish with English sub-titles