Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Review by Kelly
“A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.”
Before the lush aesthetics of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and Crimson Peak, Guillermo Del Toro created a lovely little vampire movie. Written and directed by del Toro, Cronos is his first full official movie and was released in 1993.
In the 16th century, an alchemist manufactured a device to create eternal life called the Cronos device. He eventually dies by a fatal wound to the chest. 400 years later, it is found by a sweet older man, Jesus, who runs an antique shop and lives with his wife and granddaughter, Aurora. Jesus accidentally gets punctured by the Cronos device (that has some mysterious insect inside that provides the immortality) and begins to experience blood lust. He enjoys his new found youthfulness but doesn’t realize the consequences….All the while, a true dying man has been searching for this device to save him from death and sends his nephew, played by the always enjoyable Ron Perlman (named Angel), to fetch the device from Jesus.
Cronos is a straight up Spanish movie. It was filmed in Mexico, while both the music and the language is primarily in Spanish. Though it lacks the drama and full gothic aesthetics that Del Toro has become known for, it’s dark, sad and of course involves the plight of a child. The innocence and emotions of children are often used in the gothic tales of Del Toro’s and Cronos was the beginning of this. Aurora is a sweet and quiet girl who cares deeply for Jesus and worries intensely about him when he starts to use the Cronos device. In the end, she is the one who can see through the “monster” and care for him when he needs it. She isn’t afraid and helps him during his weakest moments.
The word “vampire” is never used but the thirst for blood is there. The line between pleasure of pain, a quality of vampirism, is there as well. The Cronos device not only hurts, but provides a sense of addictive relief. There is a prevalent theme of the fear of death, and the acceptance of it. As a society, we fight for everlasting beauty, and our physical appearance being a constant on our minds. Some people want to change how they look, even going as far as surgical manipulation, like the Angel character who wants a nose job; the crippled cancer riddled man wanting to live a longer life,presumably to live a better one. Sometimes all we want to is be happy and die among those we love, like Jesus.
Although I don’t think Cronos has the “punch” that other Del Toro movies have, Cronos is a beautiful, subtle tale and definitely recommended for those who are a fan of his work. You can catch a glimpse as to what was to come. Please visit this sweetly macabre world, you won’t regret it. While you are at it, check out The Devil’s Backbone as well and make it a double feature night!