Holiday Movies: Cronos

This is not a warm-and-fuzzy, feel-good film.  It’s like Halloween (the day, not the movie) meets the holidays. Director and writer Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) has created a freaky and elegant horror flick.

Cronos (1993), a Mexican film, is set around Christmastime.  Federico Luppi stars as Jesús Gris, an antiques dealer. He finds a golden ornament–Cronos–hidden in the statue of an archangel in his shop. When he places it in his palm, the object is activated, and it releases spikes that dig into his flesh. He rips it off and it mangles his hand, but he can’t resist putting it back on to see the full extent of what it will do.

Cronos was built by an alchemist who moved to Mexico to escape the Spanish Inquisition. He created it as the key to eternal life. Each time the user allows Cronos to pierce his flesh, he gets a new burst of energy. There’s an insect inside the device, and it feeds off blood while giving the user longevity. But the price of prolonged use is to become living-dead–Cronos turns you into a vampire.

A crazy, old man harasses Jesús because he wants Cronos for himself. But Jesús takes a shine to it. At first, Cronos makes him look younger. When he gets in a car accident and people presume he’s dead, he survives–but looking like a monster and unable to walk in the light of day.

The film suggests parallels between Jesús and Christ. The story takes place around Christmas, and Jesús dies and is brought back to life. He’s a man who becomes immortal. But, Jesús doesn’t like his immortality.

Cronos is beautifully shot and has a lovely vintage look. It’s an unexpected mystery for the holiday season.

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