México Bárbaro is an anthology horror film with segments from Mexican directors that tries to showcase the current cinematic situation in Mexico regarding genre films.
The program of the /slash Filmfestival is not always uncontroversial and I’ve already seen many films that I didn’t like during the festival. Which is, of course, perfectly alright. Not every film can or should appeal to everyone. Tastes differ and I do think it’s part of a film festival’s job to challenge the viewers and their notions of what is allowed in a film or how stories can be told.
That being said, I caught myself wondering why México Bárbaro was included in the program. Although there were segments that were engaging and could have been okay in another collection, overall I don’t think I have ever seen such a vile, rape-y, misogynistic and ableist film. I was this close to walking out of it, but I felt almost paralyzed with disgust.
[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the segments separately. Writers are, unfortunately, not always clear: I couldn’t place Alfredo Mendoza and Paulo Riqué, but most segments seem to have been written by the directors themselves.]
Director: Laurette Flores Bornn
A journalist and an informant meet to discuss the atrocities committed by the Mexican mafia. But the journalist might get a closer look than he bargained for.
This segment was rather boring, then suddenly gory and I feel a little uncomfortable about the direct line that it drew between current Mexicans and the ritualistic murder of the Aztecs.
Jaral de Berrios
Director: Edgar Nito
Two robbers take shelter in an abandoned house. But it turns out that they are not alone in there.
This was the best segment of all, which is not saying much, to be honest. Because there’s still an unnecessary sexy, evil lady and it doesn’t make much sense. But at least it had nice cinematography.
Director: Aaron Soto
A young girl steals a cigarette from a dead man. When she smokes it, a demon appears to make demands from her.
[SPOILERS] The demon demands that the girl drain her sister of her menstrual blood or else it’d rape her. So the girl drains the sister – she gives her a sedative, pulls off her panties and within a short amount of time she has this huge bowl full of blood. Then she trips, spills the blood and it ends with the demon raping her. [/SPOILER]
Drena is ridiculous and offensive at the same time. Not only does it feel like Soto never actually got in touch with menstrual blood (regarding consistency and amount), which makes the entire thing laughable, it’s also the first rape of the film – and it’s played for laughs. Awesome. Not.
La cosa mas preciada
Director: Isaac Ezban
A young girl runs away with her boyfriend so that they may have sex for the first time. But something weird is going on in the woods surrounding the motel they go to.
This segment was only the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a celebration of the rape of a young girl that is alternately played for laughs and for titillation. It was disgusting, misogynistic and just plain horrible. Not even youporn would put that shit online.
Lo que importa es lo de adentro
Director: Lex Ortega
A child is deathly afraid of the homeless guy who lives near her apartment complex. Nobody around her seems to understand why, but maybe she just sees more than everybody else.
Here we have a prime example of ableism at work: [SPOILERS] On the one hand we have a child who seems to have a mental disability and who needs leg braces who magically sees more than anybody else. On the other hand we have a homeless guy with a mental illness and/or mental disability who turns out to be not only a serial killer who sells organs, but also a cannibal AND a necrophiliac. [/SPOIERS] Well, fuck you, dear film, fuck you.
Director: Jorge Michel Grau
A woman is running through the woods, chased by a man who’s obviously out to kill her. Will she be able to get away?
In the context of this anthology, this segment was yet another instance where violence against women is celebrated in detail and with a certain voyeurism. In any other context, it probably would have been a decent, albeit not exactly innovative and original slasher flick.
Siete Veces Siete
Director: Ulises Guzman
A man drags a body into the desert and performs some strange rituals on it. But to what end?
Much as with Muñecas, Siete Veces Siete could have been better in another kind of anthology. But unfortunately we saw it in this one and it just added to the misogynistic tone of the overall film: a fridged wife and kid who are forgotten in a revenge fantasy that is all about the men. The twist at the end was obvious, but not bad.
Día de los Muertos
Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero
Día de los Muertos at a strip club where the sex workers have a special suprise program.
Ugh. One thing that anthology was still missing: sex workers. One thing it wasn’t missing but which we got again: sexual assault and general rapiness. Also: sexualized violent women, what a groundbreaking concept. The women may get to take their revenge, but they have to be sexy while doing so, and first we all have to get off on their humiliation. Thanks, but no thanks. Really. No. Stop it. At least it was the last segment.
Additionally, I’m not Mexican. I don’t have any connection to the Día de los Muertos. Guerrero is and probably has one. So take this with a grain of salt when I say that I think I would be extremely offended at the way this tradition was (ab)used in this segment if it were my tradition to be offended about.