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Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: Diablero

Director: Rigoberto Castañeda, José Manuel Cravioto
Screenplay: Bernardo Esquinca, Pablo Tébar, Verónica Marzá, José Rodríguez, Luis Gamboa, Gibrán Portela, Laura Sarmiento Pallarés, Daniel Sánchez Arranz, F. G. Haghenbeck
Year: 2018

“Diablero” takes place in Mexico City, when the balance between angels and demons breaks once the angels decide to abandon the humans. Now the demon hunters (“diableros”) are the ones in charge to keep the demons under control and Elvis Infante is one of them. While Father Ventura tries to locate a kidnapped girl, Keta, Elvis’ sister, directs him to his brother suspecting that something darker is behind the kidnap. Father Ventura joins the strange but efficient trio of Elvis Infante, Keta and Nancy, a young woman who has learned to control the demons that possess her, to find the kidnapped girl.

The series takes place around Elvis Infante, a charismatic demon hunter, who pays homage to Elvis Presley with his sideburns, and that, with his work in front of demons, as well as his frequent silliness manages to quickly charm the viewer. This character, interpreted by Horacio García Rojas, is the one in charge of balancing the darkness and action of the story with moments of pure comedy. Do not let this last comment make you think that “Diablero” isn’t but another comedy with some horror thrown into it. Since the get-go, it is clear that it is dark and in its eight episodes, it does not disappoint in this section. The comedy moments do not dominate, and they are artfully located so that they do not affect the dark character of the series.

While Elvis’ character is the most prominent of the series, the rest of the main characters are very interesting. Father Ventura, interpreted by Christopher Von Uckermann, is perhaps the one that can be a little cliché, as it goes as a religious guy who falls in love and since that moment, he weights his vocation over the love he feels for a woman. Nancy interpreted by Giselle Kuri is an opposite pole. This young woman has found the way to dominate the demons that try and possess her and she uses this talent to her favor. While Ventura constantly tries to do the right thing even when he is tempted by the world, Nancy embraces the evil that surrounds her and uses it to her advantage, even when is not for evil purposes. Keta, Elvis’ sister, is the other member of this group, interpreted by Fátima Molina, who struggles with her innate talent and being unable to develop it because of the imposed restrictions that women cannot serve as demon hunters, having to assume a secondary part behind her brother, even when she is more talented as a demon hunter. At this point, it is just a formality to say that the acting is excellent, and I was particularly impressed by Nancy’s character, who is the protagonist of the darkest scenes of the series but her looks suggest a sweet rebellious young woman.

In contrast with what happens in other series, I did not found episodes that are there just to enhance the number of total episodes. In “Diablero”, every episode is full of information needed for the protagonists to keep progressing the story and manage to keep the series interesting and gets the attention of the viewer throughout its full duration. The character development and their conflicts have a nice pace and there are constant discoveries about the main character, as well as the plot.

Among the things that I disliked, it is worth mentioning the special effects. While in most of the series the special effects are good, there are parts in which it seems like old technology was used, which ends up creating sloppy visuals that are out of place with the rest of the production. Also, there are a few parts in which I could not avoid feeling a soap opera vibe. I do not know if it was predisposition from my part, bad habits from the production or trying to meet a stereotype, but I did not like it anyways, as it does not blend well with the dark character that is developed in most of the series.

Netflix bet heavy on this latin horror, which in paper had high chances of failing, but on screen it is the whole opposite. “Diablero” brings plenty of fresh ideas and it is interesting to see them being developed in a different culture that we are used to seeing in big movies. As a matter of fact, it is the cultural part, the Mexican slang and that the story is developed in a city known for being highly Catholic, which makes it more interesting and enhances its production value. In the end, there were a few pending matters but were left on the right track to be attended in the following season, which is good news. On my part, I felt the eight episodes went flying by and I am already expecting the next season.

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