Director: Zev Berman
Writer: Eric Poppen and Zev Berman
Starring: Brian Presley, Jake Muxworthy and Rider Strong
This film starts with two cops in Mexico City going into a house. They don’t see anyone and it looks like it has been abandoned. The older officer is played by Damián Alcázar. They find some voodoo/black magic items, but Alcázar needs to find something in the house to show that they are part of a cartel. Alcázar goes deeper into the house and finds even more ritual items and markings. He goes back to the first room to find that his partner is being held by former occupants of the house. He asks them about their leader. The henchmen are played by Marco Bacuzzi and Roberto Sosa. They tell him that their leader has become a bird and flew away. They take the two men hostage. Alcázar watches as these two men take the right arm and eyes from his partner for a ritual. Alcázar does get away.
We then shift to the United States. We see a man who is going off to college soon at Penn, but he has a very idealistic look at the world. He is played by Jake Muxworthy and he sells marijuana to two young women. His friend, played by Rider Strong, and he is the son of a minister. He is still a virgin and they are going to go to Mexico the following day so they can help him lose it. They are just waiting on their other friend, played by Brian Presley. Muxworthy wants to get on the road as soon as they can. They don’t find him until morning and he is reluctantly to go, but they convince him. He is supposed to be going off to Stanford soon.
They go out for a night of drinking and end up at a strip club. Presley talks to Strong about if he thinks this is a good idea to lose his virginity or not. Strong believes this is the right thing. Muxworthy finds a young woman who will take it for 80 dollars and those two leave. Presley looks at the bartender and she catches his eye. She is played by Martha Higareda. She busts his balls as he flirts and she scolds him when he tries to defend her when a guy tries to grab her arm. She tells him that she doesn’t need his help.
Strong goes back to the woman’s room and he is nervous. There is a picture of Jesus that makes it difficult for him and then he finds out she has a baby. He ends up holding it.
The following morning, Muxworthy is upset that Strong didn’t do what he came there for and played babysitter. Strong gives his money back to him and tells the two that he likes her. Muxworthy laughs this off. Higareda comes up to the group with her cousin and they are going to a local fair. They take mushrooms and smoke marijuana before going in. Strong decides to leave early after winning a stuffed dog. He wants to give it to the prostitute for her child. Presley and Muxworthy try to stop him, but he won’t listen.
Earlier in the night, Strong was rude to a man in a bathroom for taking too long and it turned out to be Bacuzzi. As Strong is walking home a man pops out of an alley asking for a light. This scares Strong, but he helps him. Strong then leans up against a wall, not feeling well. The man makes a signal and a truck pulls up. They force him in and Bacuzzi is driving with Sosa in the backseat.
The next morning Presley and Muxworthy try to find where their friend is, but he is no where in sight. They go to the police who can’t help until it has been 72 hours. They feel he will show up soon. Alcázar is also there, trying to get the police to believe his story about the leader of this cult and that he is cartel. They tell him that they can’t do anything. These three will cross path as Higareda tries to help find their friend.
Strong wakes up and he is being held captive in a shed. Sean Astin brings him food, a television and helps him to use the bathroom. Strong at one point tries to escape, but he is captured. A truck even sees him, but knows not to help. Strong is told that he is being held for a ceremony so the leader of this cult, Beto Cuevas, can perform a ritual. Will his friends and Alcázar find him before it is too late? Or will Cuevas complete his ritual using Strong?
I have to say that I didn’t know a lot about this film when I first saw it coming in. This film is based on true events, which makes it that much scarier. It is believable in that we hear stories all the time of police corruption and kidnappings in foreign countries. To top it off, Mexico and Central America are even scarier due to the presence of cartels. What makes this film even worse though is though is the fact that this cartel performs rituals that involve human sacrifice, ransom isn’t on their mind. Most of the casting for this film was good as well. I enjoyed the story as well as concept for this film as it builds tension to the end. The first time I saw it had me on the edge of my seat a few times pulling for the characters to get away. What is also great about this film is that it takes place close to the border of the United States and Mexico, but on the Mexican side. Not everyone speaks English so there is a language barrier as well as the isolation knowing that things are not the same in America.
This film does come with some issues though. I wasn’t a huge fan of Presley, as I didn’t think he does well at showing emotion in this film and I never really felt fear from him. Muxworthy and his roof scene was another where I really did feel the emotion at that point. I would expect more terror and I didn’t get it.
Now with that said, I really liked this film and would recommend it. This is a film that is based on true events and is quite creepy. What makes this film great is the scariness of a cartel that practices rituals of human sacrifice and with police corruption; they are getting away without much resistance. We then have Americans who are in Mexico, where there is a language barrier as well as isolation for them being outsiders. Some of the acting isn’t great and that does hurt the film, but overall this is film is very solid. This is one of the better films from the After Dark/8 Films to Die For series. I will warn you that there are some subtitles so keep that in mind before coming in to view this film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10