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Latino Horror Shines Bright in SATANIC HISPANICS Review

Poster for Satanic Hispanic Anthology
Image courtesy of Shudder

By Sarah Musnicky

Film anthologies are often a great way to introduce writers and directors to new audiences. Horror anthologies, in particular, have spotlighted upcoming directors and directors who may be well-known in one region but not so much worldwide. In the latest horror anthology, SATANIC HISPANICS, established Latino directors come together to offer their distinctive voices to the horror genre.

SATANIC HISPANICS centers around director Mike Mendez's and writer Alejandro Mendez's wraparound story, Chapter One: The Traveler (El Viajero). Efren Ramirez is the titular Traveler in question and, throughout the anthology, slowly raises the tension in the interrogation room. Discovered at the scene of a mass murder, Detective Arden (Greg Grunberg) and Detective Gibbons (Sonya Eddy) naturally view him with suspicion. But they soon learn that he's far more than they initially dismissed him for, and their lives are ripe for the taking.

This wraparound story easily explains how we arrive at each segment. The Traveler is in control here, whether or not the detectives fully realize it. Some story transitions require more effort from the viewer to justify in the greater framework of the film. Part of this is due to the complete shifts in tone. Going from Demián Rugna's "También Lo Vi," which is more serious and mindf***ing with its head games, to the campier goofiness of Eduardo Sánchez's "El Vampiro" is an adjustment that potentially highlights the importance of balancing tones in anthologies. While fine for me, this shifting back and forth is likely not to be everyone's cup of tea.

Each segment has its own flavor of perspective and creativity. Rugna's and Gigi Saul Guerrero's "Nahuales" both dive deep into more in-your-face horror. Rugna takes on a more psychological horror vibe with its protagonist, while Guerrero embraces the power and deep-rooted Indigenous magicks pulled from Mexico's culture. Both segments are undeniably horrifying in different ways and spare no expense in the gore and practical effects. One particular pop-out moment in "También Lo Vi" will make viewers jump from both the gore and surprise.

A dirty woman looks down upon her victim
Image courtesy of Shudder

Sánchez's segment, along with Alejandro Brugués' "The Hammer of Zanzibar," is the comedic and arguably lighter of the segments featured in SATANIC HISPANICS. The cast of "El Vampiro" works magic with their dialogue and comedic beats. Hemky Madera's titular vampire is hilarious, with a beating heart at its center. Here's a creature that thrives when unleashed yet fails to acclimate with the times. Patricia Velasquez's Maribel proves an argumentively fun counterpart to Madera's vampire, calling him rightfully out on his idiocy.

As for "The Hammer of Zanzibar," Brugués brings back Jonah Ray Rodrigues to his hilariously chaotic segment. The horror remains, but writer Lino K. Villa's humor is central to the dialogue. Paired with the tell-it-to-me-straight brand of comedic delivery from "Zanzibar"'s cast, the segment is a silly time that some will either love or ask themselves 'what the heck?'

SATANIC HISPANICS thrives in offering a tableau assortment of stories from various Latino perspectives. There's a little something for everyone, reflective of not just the anthology's creative energies but also reflective of the broad expanse of the horror genre. Each segment offers something exciting, regardless of tone, that keeps viewers on their toes.

While smoother tonal transitions from the wraparound story to the segments might have helped with the tonal inconsistencies between each piece, it's a minor quibble. At the end of the day, SATANIC HISPANICS highlights what makes the horror genre the most fun for experimentation. This horror anthology showcases the best Latino horror talent out there and is a delightful addition to the genre space.

SATANIC HISPANICS is now available on Shudder.


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