In all honesty, I never expected to see the words “Robert Rodriguez” and “direct to video horror” come up in the same sentence unless the word “never” was involved. Either that or a lot of laughing. But that’s at least somewhat the case here with “Curandero: Dawn of the Demon”, a copy of which Lionsgate sent our way for review.
“Curandero: Dawn of the Demon” takes us down to Mexico, where a Mexican federal agent calls in the support of one of the titular curanderos–something like a cross between a priest and a wizard from what I can tell–to purify a police station. Naturally, the things contained inside the police station causing it to be impure in the first place don’t much care for their forcible eviction by Spanish word and thus decide that they’re going to make things tough on the folks who want their police station demon-free. Thus kicks off a nice long battle between the two sides.
Robert Rodriguez’s involvement in this one seems best described as “peripheral”, as he did handle the original story and is credited as one of the producers–Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, has the director credit on this one–so blame or thank Robert as you see fit.
There will be a couple interesting moments here that will likely prompt the wary to rewind and frame advance–certainly happened for me, and the results are actually somewhere between scary and oddly comical–but the overall effect is somewhat on the disturbing side. Those hoping for a “From Dusk To Dawn” sort of effect won’t be getting it, nor will there be much in the way of “Assault on Precinct 13″. About the closest thing I can call it is like some kind of disturbed, unusually long episode of “CSI” partially in Spanish.
The number of flash-frame inserts, though, will start to get a bit tiresome after a while, though, and frankly they start getting in the way the farther into the movie we go. Frankly, Robert Rodriguez can do better than this, and why he didn’t bring any more of his action skills into this one is beyond me.
Special features here will include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, English or Spanish audio tracks, a commentary track, and trailers for “The Bay,” “The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia,” “Sin City,” “Mimic,” “Saw: The Final Chapter,” and a promotional trailer for Fearnet. The trailers, oddly, will not be available from the main menu.
I have to hand it to “Curandero: Dawn of the Demon” for having some interesting ideas. The trouble is that many of these interesting ideas won’t be pulled out until the movie itself is almost over, making them less than valuable overall. The rest of the movie is as jumbled and confused a mess as one of the flash frames used throughout the movie itself. Frankly, I expected more. What I got was nowhere near what I had hoped for.