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Review: Dark Forces (2020)

Dark Forces, or Fuego Negro in its native Spanish, gets off to a picturesque start. A motorcycle glides through the night in Mexico City to the accompaniment of an electronic score. We have no idea who the rider is or where he’s going, we just watch him ride. And that sums up much of Bernardo Arellano’s film. Beautiful to look at, but impossible to figure out.

As it turns out, the motorcyclist is Franco (Tenoch Huerta, Tigers Are Not Afraid, Narcos: Mexico) and he’s on his way to a cheap motel. It seems he’s looking for his sister who’s been kidnapped by Max (Mauricio Aspe) a mobster he once worked for. She’s not there, but there is an albino physic who might be able to help. For a price, of course.

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There’s also Rubi (Eréndira Ibarra, Sense 8) a mysterious and seductive waitress who sets her sights on Franco. But just when you think Dark Forces is an odd neo-noir, it throws a huge swerve at you. Nick Zedd (Geek Maggot Bingo, War Is Menstrual Envy) shows up as a silent demonic harbinger of what’s to come. Nightmares, strange noises and worm-like creatures that contain people’s souls all enter into the plot. And then there are the vampires, or maybe they’re demons.

Dark Forces explains almost none of this. Even Max’s past is an enigma, beyond the fact he’s quite skilled at dealing out violence. At a fast 81 minutes including credits, things like explanations and logic seem to have been cut to make room for more exploitable elements. And we get plenty of blood, violence and nudity. There are several sex scenes that give the viewer good looks at Ibarra’s body. And it is worth looking at.

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And since this is a horror film, there are hallucinations, Suspiria styled lighting, and creature effects. There’s also a creepy turn by Dale Carley as a mysterious neighbour who looks like Rocky Horror’s Riff Raff. None of it makes much sense, but honestly, I didn’t care.

The film moves along at a fast pace and there’s just enough plot I could follow along. I might not know exactly what was happening or why. But I knew enough to get the gist of it all. It was like watching one of Paul Naschy’s more outrageous films. Only Dark Forces is from Mexico, not Spain and subtitled instead of dubbed.

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Dark Forces is available on Netflix. It’s no classic, but it is an enjoyable bit of nonsense. And proof not all Latin American horror is as serious as La Llorona.

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