Silly Guillermo del Toro, don’t you know vampires are supposed to sparkle!
Screenplay By: Guillermo del Toro
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
I really like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Angel, I want to make that clear before I get into the heart of this review. I enjoy that Joss Whedon universe, and I have always been fond of the way those TV shows deal with relationships and such. However, when it comes to vampirism I much prefer the disgusting and tactile approach of Cronos. I’ve never bought the Anne Rice, now see Twilight, approach to vampirism. Living forever wouldn’t be glamorous, or allow you to turn into some sort of heartthrob that sparkles in the sunlight. Becoming a creature of the night would have plenty of drawbacks, and a big part of vampirism is how disgusting it can be. The sparkly, lover boy approach of other creators is by no means wrong. It’s just that when the chips are down I much prefer one that treats vampirism as an actual disease.
Cronos doesn’t look kindly on vampirism, this is seen as much in the characters around Jesus as in Jesus himself. The changes to Jesus are obvious, and they are disgusting. He loses his skin, he can no longer deal with the daylight, and he craves blood. It is very disgusting to see Jesus drop to the bathroom floor and begin to lap up blood from the dirty floor. Less obvious is the effect that vampirism has on those around Jesus, and those who crave the eternal life. When Jesus’ granddaughter finally speaks it could be read as a charming moment. I took it differently, it’s a very sad moment. She’s not speaking out of love, or affection for her grandpa. Aurora speaks out of sadness for the creature that her grandpa has become. The relationship between De la Guardia and his nephew Angel is another example of the far reaching effects of vampirism. Maybe their relationship would have been just as abusive without the elder’s obsessive quest for the scarab. I, again, took a different approach. The quest of Angel’s uncle for eternal life drove a wedge between the two De la Guardia’s. In Cronos vampirism is visually disgusting, but it’s also quite damaging to everyone it touches, vampire or not.
A common theme of señor del Toro’s films is that of the accepting youth. On the one hand a character like Aurora is naive in her willingness to just accept her grandpa as a vampire. However, in the larger context of señor del Toro’s work I took her acceptance as a sign of the open mindedness of children. Fantasies and fairy tales can happen in the mind of a child. There is something noble and charming about that viewpoint. In Cronos Aurora is perhaps the only character not tainted by adulthood, and thus the only character who can accept the unbelievable at face value. Taking that approach to the mind of children opens up a lot of storytelling possibilities.
I’m a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work, and Cronos is yet another fine effort from the Mexican director. In his first feature length film señor del Toro already shows the same fetishes that will go on to dominate his work. Imagination and an otherworldly approach to the fantastical are the order of the day in Cronos. The film is well made in every respect, brimming to the gills with the sort of visual sense and narrative structure that should appease any horror buff. I may already be a fan of señor del Toro, but that doesn’t mean Cronos isn’t an exhilarating and fresh look at the disgusting world of the vampire.