Cronos is a 1993 horror film which is a unique albeit flawed take on vampire fiction and is most importantly the directorial debut for the acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro.
It is about the ancient device that can give eternal life which was developed by an alchemist in the 16th century and is now discovered by an antique dealer. The concept for this movie is phenomenal, so offbeat and incredibly authentic. It also revives the vampire film with a rather unique take on it. However, it is unfortunately a great concept executed poorly. I am talking about the eventual tendency from the movie to succumb into usual horror cliches which I found incredibly disappointing.
The first act of the film, half an hour approximately, is splendid. It is riveting, it is original and it is above all a very intriguing story. It also ends on a warm note. But the whole middle part of the movie does not work as it has too many familiar plot points that contrast the movie’s otherwise creative nature. That is why overall it disappointed me in the end.
The characters are solidly developed as are their relationships. It is also a solidly acted film, albeit nothing too special. But overall most of the characters are well realized for the genre and they serve their purpose.
Technically, Cronos is okay. It has memorable imagery and the effects are definitely the highlight with the make-up being incredibly well done. The score is forgettable and the dialogue is unfortunately problematic. It is never as sophisticated as the script commands and some of the lines are just too typical and took me out of the film. It is a solidly paced, tight movie. The tone is well handled with some gory and atmospheric thrills, but also with some warm and emotional, even effervescent moments. But it is never particularly scary, the atmosphere is okay but it too much relies on gore instead of the actual scares and atmosphere.
Cronos is certainly memorable and very authentic in concept, but weak in execution. I liked that it has a heart with some quite heartwarming moments, especially near the end. But the action and the climax are too dressed in blockbuster clothing to be enjoyed more. And I have to talk about the gore. It was overwhelming at times to me personally, but they did not go too far with it thankfully. It was sometimes too much to handle, but it is mostly not that bad. But the script, no matter how unsuccessfully executed it is, is incredibly sophisticated and just something new. It breathes fresh new life to a tired subgenre of vampire horror.
The directing from Guillermo del Toro is definitely good and it has his signature touch, but this is still his feature debut and he was much better later down his career. But this film established him as a terrific new director and showed what he could do and how creative he could be. Yes, it is a very low-budget movie, but he with so little money did the best he could and created a really professional film which is an incredible achievement and the rise of a new talent in cinema.
Cronos is a polarizing experience. It is a great concept weakly executed. It is well made and well directed and it is such an original take on the tired genre with a very sophisticated script, but the dialogue is everything but and the film eventually succumbs to the usual horror trappings which was immensely disappointing. It is a solid directorial debut for Guillermo del Toro, but this is still far from his best work.