Time: 92 Minutes
Federico Luppi as Jesús Gris
Ron Perlman as Angel de la Guardia
Claudio Brook as Dieter de la Guardia
Margarita Isabel as Mercedes Gris
Tamara Shanath as Aurora Gris
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Antique dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) stumbles across Cronos, a 400-year-old scarab that, when it latches onto him, grants him youth and eternal life — but also a thirst for blood. As Jesus enjoys his newfound vitality, he’s unaware that a dying old man, Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook), has sent his nephew, Angel (Ron Perlman), to find the scarab and bring it back to him. But Jesus will not give immortality up easily, even risking the life of his orphan granddaughter (Tamara Shanath).
I’m only aware and watched Cronos because it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and I wanted to check out all of his movies. This is actually his first film of his directing career, and for a debut movie, it was quite good. It does have its issues and lacks the same touch that most of Del Toro’s later films has, but there’s a lot of good parts here at the same time.
Cronos is definitely an interesting take on a vampire story. It is slowly paced and can be a bit sluggish at times, even though the movie is an hour and a half long. The film lacks some depth and doesn’t go all the way with its ideas (at least not as much as I’d like at least), but I was reasonably interested throughout. Some plotting and dialogue isn’t exactly the best, it’s a bit rough around the edges and wasn’t quite polished. However those are to be expected from a first movie. The plot is simplistic but it at least manages to avoid overcomplicating everything. In terms of other issues, it’s a small thing, but while most of the movie is in Spanish, there are some conversations where one person is speaking in English and the other in Spanish. Those moments are pretty distracting and takes you out of the experience, it probably should’ve just been fully in Spanish (again though it’s only a minor distraction). The writing was solid enough overall.
Federico Luppi gives a fantastic performance as main character Jesus Gris, an older man who finds himself with this particular device which helps him cheat death. He’s great and really portrays the character and everything he goes through really well, he really was a standout in this movie. Tamara Shanath also gives a solid performance as Jesus’s granddaughter, the relationship between the two feels genuine, and she really gets chances to shine towards the end of the movie. Ron Perlman is also in this and acts very well. He can be over the top and hammy at points (and his character’s motivations were a bit all over the place by the end), but I thought he was enjoyable to watch. The rest of the acting can be a bit mixed.
Guillermo Del Toro directed this movie very well, especially considering that this was his first movie. It is lower budget at around $2 million, but he seemed to have put it to good use. It’s quite a good looking movie, it’s well shot, the use of colour was great, and I really liked the moments where Del Toro played with some gothic elements. You can really tell even just from this one movie that he’s a director who really has an eye for detail. The sets are full of detail and were well made, the makeup and practical effects are effectively creepy and well designed, the gore effects were greatly gruesome too. There’s quite an eerie atmosphere throughout too, which was helped by the score by Javier Alvarez, which was quite effective.
Cronos isn’t one of Guillermo Del Toro’s strongest movies, but it is still solid. It doesn’t quite reach its potential despite its interesting take on the familiar vampire tale, and it is rough around the edges for sure. With that said, many of the flaws of the movie can be looked over considering that it was his first movie. On the whole it is directed very well, the acting from Luppi, Shanath and Perlman is great and it was interesting enough to watch. Definitely worth checking out.