I’m not sure about you guys, but for me, whenever I learn a film I’m about to watch has sat on the shelf for some time, alarm bells set off.

Well, they were ringing at a truly deafening level when Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon turned up on our desk, as a quick bit of research shows this Mexican horror-thriller was actually filmed way back in 2005.

Quite why it is getting dusted off and released now is anyone’s guess, although when you can plaster genre fave Robert Rodriguez’s name all over the cover (he adapted the screenplay and was involved in the production you see), you have a better chance of getting some exposure I suppose.

Turns out Curandero is a real mixed bag, with some moments of true inspiration and lashings of impressive gore offset by a storyline that trundles along at something resembling a snail’s pace.curandero_packshot3d

In fact, while I would never say I was truly bored, I was fighting to stay awake at times, such is the languid approach taken by director Eduardo Rodriguez.

The storyline is interesting enough – Carlos Gallardo plays Carlos, a ‘good witch’ if you like, who travels from place to place, cleansing areas that have been cloaked in black magic.

Carlos is called into action by the Mexican police when crime kingpin Castaneda (Gabriel Pingarron) threatens to overrun Mexico City with his own particular brand of magic-inspired carnage, leaving a trail of pretty messed-up bodies in his wake.

The curandero (the name for the white witch) is teamed up with female officer Magdalena (Gizeht Galatea) and together they must fight not only the kingpin’s army of armed goons, but also plenty of evil curses – oh, and a load of hallucinations of bloody goats and the like.

If that all sounds great that’s because in principle it is, and there are lots of areas to recommend in this flick.

In terms of imagery this is right up there, with some truly graphic set-pieces that will linger in the memory.

We get carved-up bodies, gallons of blood and plenty of other on-screen nastiness.

Rodriguez also uses an impressive ‘washed-out’ film technique which adds to the gritty feel, which reminded me in many ways of Tony Scott’s work in Man On Fire.

There are a handful of nicely-staged shootouts, although these do resemble the tired cliché of aimless goons being unable to hit a barn door, only to be gunned down by the good guys with minimal fuss.

There is reasonable chemistry between Gallardo and Galatea, and I got a kick out of seeing Gallardo back on the screen after his turns in El Mariachi and Desperado.

But, as suggested above, the pacing is what really drags the whole thing down.

There are substantial chunks of the film where things go nowhere fast and I had my finger hovering over the fast forward button on a few occasions.

Rodriguez also serves up a few ‘wtf’ moments – my favourite being Gallardo caressing Galatea’s exposed cleavage with a boiled egg – to cure her of evil spirits of course.

Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon is not a bad film by any means and is certainly worth a watch – just prepare to be exasperated as much as entertained.

EXTRAS: Director’s commentary

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.