Into the Dark: Culture Shock

09/29/2019 13:51

Film: Into the Dark: Culture Shock

Year: 2019

Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero

Writer: Efrén Hernández, James Benson and Gigi Saul Guerrero

Starring: Martha Higareda, Richard Cabral and Barbara Crampton



This Hulu ‘show’ is definitely one that has me intrigued. At the time of seeing this film, I had only seen their February 2019 movie. I actually checked this one out due to a horror movie challenge that I’m participating in. It fulfilled a couple of different categories, so that was a perk for picking it. The synopsis here a Mexican woman in pursuit of the American dream, who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself in an American nightmare.

We start this with a couple, Marisol (Martha Higareda) and Oscar Molina (Felipe de Lara). They are getting ready to make the trek over the border into the United States. It cuts to the credits where we hear a news report about the border crisis. Interspersed are images of blood and violence. We also learn about facilities where they are assimilating illegal immigrants by a for-profit company.

The movie then informs us that we are months into the future. Marisol is pregnant and we learn that she was double crossed by Oscar. He also raped her. She still wants to get into the US and she gets a phone call from a bartender about a Coyote that is there. She goes and he is Sal Lopez. He was the one that was supposed to take her last time, but he took her money and left her behind. She convinces him that this time she will go, despite being pregnant.

A midwife tries to talk her out of it, played by Laura Cerón. At her place, they talk to a group of young woman, one of which played by co-writer and director Gigi Saul Guerrero. Marisol meets up with El Zorro (Oscar Camacho). He requires payment, but he will take them to the place where they will leave with Coyote and his associate Chayan (Daniel Edward Mora). Also coming on this journey are Santo (Richard Cabral) and a boy named Ricky (Ian Inigo).

The journey isn’t easy and even more so for Marisol, who has to fight off Chayan when he attempts to rape her. Marisol slices his check with a knife and Santo comes to her aid. Things take another turn when they have to hide from some cartel goons. As Marisol and Ricky make a run for it, they’re stopped by border patrol.

She is very confused though when she wakes up in a house, wearing a lace dress. The house belongs to Betty (Barbara Crampton) and while she was asleep, she delivered her baby. Betty takes her around the town, where she sees Santo, Ricky and Oscar, but things just don’t seem right. She also meets the town’s mayor, Thomas (Shawn Ashmore), who seems overly nice. What is really going on here?

Now to start off my recap, I was following the production of this as I follow the stars Higareda, Crampton as well as Guerrero on social media. It was an interesting film as Into the Dark creates horror movies around the holiday of that month. This one of course came out close to my birthday and the 4th of July. I won’t go into my politics on the subject matter of this movie, but I will say that it is a hot button issue.

What really struck me about this was the The Stepford Wives feel of those in the town. It really all makes sense at the reveal of what is happening and I really dug it. There is something so creepy about how everyone is being so nice to the point where it doesn’t feel real. This also has a feel of The Matrix with something that happens here as well.

What I do want to say about the politics here is that I think it was genius for this to be directed by an immigrant. Guerrero doesn’t live in the US herself, but she did migrant from Mexico to Canada. She actually did what the main character is trying to do, just a little bit differently. Higareda and Cabral both have similar stories themselves as not being the US originally. I think it brings a unique experience to what this film is trying to convey. All I will say is that I don’t really think there is a crisis at the border so this really does garner my interest there.

From here I want to move to the editing and the pacing. I think that it is edited together just fine. It is paced in a way where it builds tension in quite different ways. The beginning is the fear if Marisol and Ricky are going to make it over the border. I think it’s interesting to have Santo, who is a criminal. The more we get to know him, the more you realize it is probably more a victim of circumstance. It then shifts to what is going on with this town that the three are in and I like the reveal. There’s a bit of social commentary here as well about government run things being privatized and how bad things can happen as well. I like the ending and the realization that Marisol comes to.

The acting is also pretty solid. I’m a big fan of Higareda and I’m glad she was in this. I find her quite attractive and her plight really pulled at my heartstrings. Her character has gone through some traumatic events, but it really makes her grow into the strong woman that she is in the end. Cabral is kind of a scary looking guy. He is quiet, but we see that he’s really good at heart. I love Crampton and she plays this role so well. I thought there were good cameos here by Creed Bratton, Ashmore, Cerón and Lopez. They and the rest of the cast definitely rounded out this movie for what was needed.

To the effects of the film, I have to give credit that Guerrero knows what she is doing. There aren’t a lot in the way of effects, but the blood and gore we do get looks good. There is a bit of CGI, as there are some computer things that are in the movie. I didn’t have any issues there and overall I would say the effects were good. The movie is shot very well and looks good.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. There’s a lot of Spanish music, as it would make sense with the character that we are following. I also think at times when it needed to ramp up the tension, it worked well in doing that. It’s not a score I would seek out to listen to regularly, but it fits for what the movie needed.

Now with that said, I ended up enjoying this movie. There’s a lot of social commentary and I think that is fitting pairing that with the beloved holiday of the United States’ independence. Seeing the things that Marisol goes through made me sad, but it also makes her grow into the character we see at the end. I think that the acting was solid across the board. It is paced in a way where I wasn’t bored and I think it does some interesting things. The ending was solid. The effects were good for what was needed and much the same with the soundtrack. Now I will say that I could see this rubbing some people the wrong way, especially depending on your politics, but I personally liked it. It’s not the best film I’ve seen, but definitely above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10