Eye For Film >> Movies >> Satanic Hispanics (2022) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
One of 2022’s best horror anthologies and a highlight of Fantastic Fest, Satanic Hispanics consists of four stories which are woven together in shaggy dog style. Although multiple directors were involved, it maintains impressive consistency in both style and tone, each of them adding their own quirks and flourishes without anything jarring. There are some disturbing scenes and there’s a fair measure of gore, but it’s the humour which stands out most, and the confidence with which it is delivered gives fresh energy to some very old jokes.
In the opening sequence, we move through rooms full of corpses to encounter a chained man (Efren Ramirez) who tries to hack off his own hand rather than be captured. When he is, no charges are brought – with no direct evidence against him, he blames it all on coyotes (of the people trafficking variety) and protests that he’s a victim – but, as detectives Arden (Greg Grunberg) and Gibbons (Sonya Eddy) try to piece together what’s going on, they detain him anyway. As the other stories unfold, the first being an account of a man he recognises in a picture taken at the crime scene, we gradually learn more about him – and as his claims about himself grow increasingly wild, the detectives begin to realise that they and everybody in their station could be in serious danger, as something is coming for him.
That first story concerns an Argentinean competitive Rubik’s cube solver who lets a podcaster into the large, rambling house which he inherited from his grandmother, in Argentina) to look for ghosts. If there are supernatural entities there, it may be that he has let them in himself by carelessly playing around with mathematical formulas, an element which contributes to the meta-story. The director has a lot of fun with prosthetics and gruesome effects work.
In the second tale, which the detainee delivers in an attempt to prove that he knows more about what goes on it the area than the detectives do, we meet a befuddled vampire enjoying Halloween, the one night of the year when he can wander around openly and deter witnesses to his activities by doing a bad vampire impression. Meanwhile there is another vampire waiting at home and worrying about him getting back by daylight, a matter which becomes more urgent when it emerges that the clocks have changed. The silliest of the shorts, this could easily have gone awry, but capable performers with great comic timing hold it together and give it real char,.
Next up, the detectives enquire about a vial of blood found in the detainee’s possession. He describes it as a souvenir acquired in the aftermath of a shamanic ceremony, and the story of a CIA informant who crosses a cartel and falls foul of its supernatural agent unfurls, taking us deep into the rainforest and addressing the intersection of cultural groups with very different ways of thinking. This is the weakest of the shorts but it’s still big on atmosphere and seriously creepy in places.
The final short acts as a gateway to the showdown at the end of the meta-story, and concerns the fate of a man who may have crossed the same entity as our protagonist. This man is Malcolm, who recorded a secret ceremony – perhaps the one we have just seen – without permission, and, in so doing, may have created a gateway letting a murderous demon out into the world. This is a twisting tale with a number of surprises, not just in terms of who is in control but also in terms of tone, with a vein of joyously obscene humour emerging partway through which boosts its energy and takes a whole new approach yo cautioning viewers about getting involved with demons. You will not easily forget the Hammer of Zanzibar.
With a wrap-up which builds on everything that has gone before and plays out in classic western style whilst retaining the horror element, Satanic Hispanics delivers the kind of punch rarely found in composite films. It’s spirited and entertaining throughout, and genre fans will love it.Reviewed on: 29 Sep 2022