As we close out the year, let's take a look at an incoming wave of exciting horror films from Latino filmmakers. I bring you a list of new Latino Horror films for 2022. This list has been extensively researched by me, an extremely nerdy Latino horror scientist. It promises demons, exorcisms, serial killers, zombies, weird slug parasites, the evil eye, Rubik's cubes, and THE HAMMER OF ZANZIBAR. No, en serio, we've got Popobawa up in this Latino Horror Show.
Latino horror filmmaking has been powerful coming out of Mexico and Argentina. Recently, Jayro Bustamante's La Llorona was on the shortlist for the Academy Awards as the Best International Film from Guatemala and the DVD release that went straight to the Criterion Collection. Gullermo del Toro won the Academy Award for Best Director in 2017 after fellow non-horror Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritutook home the Best Director Oscar three years in a row between them. Issa Lopez, director of the incredible Tigers Are Not Afraid, will be writing, directing, and producing the new season of True Detective. The world has really started to take notice of Latino directors.
The films on this list represent recent Latino horror cinema. Some are still on the festival circuit, and some are currently streaming.
Satanic Hispanics - Mexico, Cuba, Argentina [Festivals, Distribution through Epic Pictures and Dread]
This film is the first all Latino Horror anthology film and features a killer cinematic slate of some of the best Latino film directors in the business. It includes segments by Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, Don't Kill It), Demián Rugna (Terrified, You Don't Know Who You're Talking To), Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project, V/H/S/2 segment "A Ride in the Park"), Gigi Saul Guerrero (Into The Dark: "Culture Shock", Bingo Hell), and Alejandro Brugues (Juan Of The Dead, ABCs of Death 2: segment "E is for Equilibrium"). This great anthology film has such remarkable talent on display in all aspects and is both hilarious and scary. It is, as advertised, "Latino AF." The film addresses many issues Latinos confront daily, but in a rip-roaringly entertaining and thrilling package.
Huesera: The Bone Woman - Mexico, Peru [Festivals, Distribution through XYZ Films]
Huesera is a film that truthfully examines the twin terrors of not knowing what you want out of life when everyone expects certain things out of you and pregnancy. It explores the idea of the very real dangers inherent in pregnancy and the exacting burden of motherhood. It is a wonderfully chilling first feature from Michelle Garza Cervera that stars Natalia Solián, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Mercedes Hernández, Aída López, and Martha Claudia Moreno. Filled with beautiful Catholic imagery that recalls the motherly Mexican legends of the past and punk rock music, Huesera is a film that women will strongly relate to, and that will open the eyes of men. It has a radiant lead performance from Natalia Solián, filled with vulnerability and savagery. You'll never view pregnancy in the same way ever again, and it's a brilliant portrait of a woman trying to understand and know herself.
Pussycake aka Emesis - Argentina [SCREAMBOX, YouTube, and Google Play]
This thoroughly enjoyable gorefest with a completely creepy premise and monsters has really flown under the radar. The blood, viscera, and fluids fly all over the characters and the screen. It's a little bit parasite and a little bit zombie rock and roll when a gore-geous women's rock and roll band called Pussycake plays at a small, hot club and encounters a little static. After the show, their manager offers a second gig in another town. The band is hot and tired, and the lead singer is rattled by a fan grabbing her, which triggers PTSD from an abusive relationship. What could go wrong? Pretty much everything. The film is directed by Pablo Parés (Plaga Zombie, I Am Toxic) and stars Macarena Suárez, Anahí Politi, Aldana Ruberto, Florencia Moreno, Sofia Rossi, Macarena Suárez Dagliano. This is just one of the films coming from Argentina, which shows that the country has become a hotspot of cinema in Latin America. Pussycake and a second Argentinian entry on this list are very different in execution but have similar and strong female casts, storylines, and themes.
American Carnage - USA [Apple TV, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu + streaming at Hulu December 1]
Directed by Diego Hallivis (Curvature) and starring Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Yumarie Morales, Jenna Ortega, Jorge Diaz, Bella Ortiz, Allen Maldonado, Eric Dane, and Brett Cullen, American Carnage is a horror comedy about American Latinos. While it was produced in the United States, it was written and directed by a Mexican-American with a majority Latino cast. The film's synopsis is this: "After a governor issues an executive order to arrest the children of undocumented immigrants, the detained youth are offered an opportunity to have their charges dropped by volunteering to provide care to the elderly. Once inside the elder care facility, however, they discover more twisted secrets than they could have possibly imagined." Rather than being a story of immigrants trying to reach the USA, this is the story about how the children of immigrants are othered even though they are citizens and how people make assumptions about all the different kinds of Latinos. Set in a world where politicians use the law to punish Latinos for being who they are, some strange things happen at this particular nursing home.
Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye) - Mexico [Festivals]
Directed by Isaac Ezban and starring Ofelia Medina, Paola Miguel, and Samantha Castillo. Mal De Ojo has been released in Mexico and premiered at Fantastic Fest. This is Ezban's first foray into horror after working in science fiction with his first three features. The director promises that the film will "do for grannies what Jaws did for sharks." It concerns the legend of the evil eye, magic in a beautiful old home, and children with nowhere to turn. Are the ties of family enough to save them? Check out the official synopsis: "Luna is sick and no treatment seems to work. Her desperate parents take her to the Mexican countryside to seek an alternative treatment, where they leave Luna and her older sister Nala in the care of Josefa, their grandmother. Acting in what initially seems to be an eccentric way, Josefa becomes far eerier once the parents have left."
Mexzombies - Mexico [Festivals]
Directed by Chava Cartas (El Dandy, Rosario Tijeras) and starring Iñaki Godoy, Marcelo Barceló, Roberta Damián, Luciana Vale, Bárbara de Regil and Vincent Webb. Mexzombies is more along the lines of a fun zombie apocalypse story set in a rich enclave in Mexico. The trailer shows slow-motion zombie kills and rich people trying to party on Halloween while zombies are in their midst. As usual, they should have listened to those darn kids. The film premiered at The Toronto Film Festival and screened at the Sitges Film Festival in October.
This horror story is a horror comedy in the same vein as Zombieland but with a Mexican perspective.
The Attachment Diaries - Argentina [Festivals]
Another intriguing and disturbing horror film from Argentina, The Attachment Diaries, is not easily definable, but I guess it might come close to films of the '70s like Daughters of Darkness. Except that there aren't any vampires, just a vulnerable and hurt woman with an agenda. It is an elegant, erotic thriller centered on women. Directed by Valentín Javier Diment (The Rotten Link, El Sentido Del Miedo) and starring Jimena Anganuzzi, Lola Berthet, Edgardo Castro, and Marcela Guerty. The film is presented in half black and white and half in color, with a very dignified aura despite dealing with many uncomfortable subjects. It does confront the issue of abortion, which up until 2021, was not legal in Argentina. I saw the film at The Chatanooga Film Festival, through their performances, the lead actresses deepened their characters and added a truly obsessional force to their relationship in a way that makes the film better than the script would suggest.
Desaparecer Por Completo (Disappear Completely) - Mexico [Festivals]
Directed by Luis Javier Henaine (Tiempos Felices) and starring Harold Torres, Tete Espinoza, Fermín Martínez, and Vicky Araico, the film premiered at Fantastic Fest and is still making the rounds on the festival circuit. Here's the synopsis, "After visiting a crime scene, an ambitious and insensitive tabloid crime photographer falls victim to a mysterious illness." The film concerns Brujeria (witchcraft),and a horrifying curse which causes the victim to lose all of his senses one by one. Other Latino filmmakers mention this film as one to watch.
La Exorcista (The Serpent And Sister Ophelia) - Mexico [Festivals, produced by BTF Media and Groupo Morbido]
Do Latinos like to make movies about demons and exorcisms? You bet we do. Here’s a late entry from director Adrián García Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Late Phases), which recently screened at the Sitges Film Festival. This is the synopsis: “Ofelia, a young nun who recently arrived at the town of San Ramon, is forced to perform an exorcism on a pregnant woman. Just when it looks like the possession has ended, she discovers that the evil presence has not vanished.” The director and co-writer Adrian Garcia Bogliano was born in Spain but has made his films in Mexico, where he lives, and in Argentina. The film stars Maria Evoli (We Are The Flesh) and two actresses who starred in Mexican genre classics, Norma Lazareno (Even The Wind Is Afraid) and Tina Romero (Alucarda).
Because many of these films are so new that most readers may not have access to them just yet, here are two recent Latino films you can stream right now.
Luciferina - Argentina [Streaming - Kino Now, Tubi, Vudu, Pluto TV]
Directed by Gonzalo Calzada and starring Victoria Carreras, Sofía Del Tuffo, Francisco Donovan, Chucho Fernández, and Gastón Cocchiarale. The film is accurately described as "visually explosive" and contains an extended sex scene on an altar which is definitely something to pique the interest. Here is the synopsis, "Natalia is a 19-year-old novice who reluctantly returns home to say goodbye to her dying father. But when she meets up with her sister and her friends, she decides to travel to the jungle instead in search of a mystical plant. There, instead of pleasure, they find a world of Black Masses, strange pregnancies, bloody deaths, and for the nun herself, a sexually violent clash with the Devil himself." Latino films do not shy away from eroticism, demonology, and lots of blood!
The Exorcism Of God - Venezuela, Mexico [Google Play, Apple TV, YouTube, Vudu]
Directed by Alejandro Hidalgo (The House At The End Of Time) and starring Will Beinbrink, Joseph Marcell, María Gabriela de Faría, Hector Kotsifakis, Iran Castillo, and Juan Ignacio Aranda. The film was financed in the United States but filmed in Mexico with a Venezuelan director. This is the synopsis, "An American exorcist is possessed by the demon he was trying to expel from a young woman and is forced, against his will, to commit the most terrible sacrilege. Eighteen years later, trying to keep his guilt buried under charity work for the poor in a small town in Mexico, Peter discovers that the demon has returned." The film is fully banana pants and will probably put your jaw on the floor in the first five minutes. While it discusses Catholic guilt, it also features a possessed Jesus Christ and has the confidence to recreate the famous shaft of light scene from the original Exorcist. In my opinion, the film scores points for that. [Watch our interview with Exorcism of God Director Alejandro Hidalgo right here.]