Real Mexican Horror

Horror movie anthologies are always a gamble, whether they are expensive studio product or niche underground shorts from independent filmmakers. Hailing from South of the Border, México Bárbaro II features nine directors delivering fiendish shorts of gore, brutality and often a wicked sense of humor unique to the country. Technically a sequel to 2014’s México Bárbaro, eight new short films comprise this original and uncompromising vision of horror.

Somehow the wildly different styles and stories found in México Bárbaro II mesh quite well together. They form a striking collection of memorable scares ranging from the brutally supernatural to hopelessly bizarre. Mixed with satire and a little humor inside occasional social commentary, there’s a bit of something for everyone looking for unique frights they haven’t quite experienced before.

México Bárbaro II features nine directors delivering fiendish shorts of gore, brutality and often a wicked sense of humor

México Bárbaro II mines the darker and more disturbing aspects of Mexican culture throughout its eight short films, the one unifying thread of the anthology.

Opening with a cinematic period piece called “Juan the Soldier”, Abraham Sanchez crafts a haunting enigma about the army executing a man for his supposed crimes. “Paidos Phobos” is a surreal, if uneven, entry as a mother is deathly afraid of the child locked upstairs in the bedroom.

“Potzonalli” may be the major highlight of México Bárbaro II, a wildly outrageous short which deliciously plays with the audience’s expected sympathies. A mother and her children take revenge on their abusive father, who we see as an actual pig man. The well-done gore takes a cheeky wink at us while having fun with its twisted mayhem.

“Bolas de Fuego” aka “Fireballs” is an off-kilter parody about a film shoot for an adult video going badly wrong for two men. No matter how attractive they look, avoid hiring demons. “Vitriol” takes a mannered approach to its horror, building a riveting atmosphere of dread around a woman drifting through life.” Do Not Sleep” concerns the influence stark warnings given by a child’s deceased grandmother still resonate through his life.

“It’s About Time” is another highlight, mining ironic terror from adolescent girls summoning demons to torture their frenemies. The low-budget special effects are wild in this grisly coming-of-age story. There’s a bit more Hollywood influence going on here than the other shorts despite the demented action.

México Bárbaro II climaxes with director Lex Ortega’s punishing “Exodoncia.” It’s the toughest short film included in the anthology, delving into drug addiction through intense body horror terror that would make Pinhead blush. Unrepentant torture porn, told with a harsh, unforgiving style while saying something meaningful about it.

Like all anthologies, there are weaker and stronger short films in the mix but the anthology is beautifully assembled and paced. Even when one of the entries doesn’t work, there’s always a palpable sense of the distinctive Mexican elements which makes México Bárbaro II stand out from other indie horror anthologies.

Video

Unearthed Films issues the 2017 horror anthology on a BD-50 in a serviceable, if erratic, Hi-Def presentation. Running 87 minutes, the AVC encode includes some banding and minor compression issues. The 1080p video does change aspect ratios. While the remaining short films are all in 1.78:1, the opening “Juan the Soldier” is shown in a more cinematic 2.35:1 scope presentation. It’s not a coincidence “Juan the Soldier” offers the best cinematography and atmosphere.

The low-budget horror shorts vary in picture quality. “Exodoncia” takes a dark, gritty approach with opaque black levels. Fireballs is brightly lit like television news, a raw digital aesthetic more suited for music videos than storytelling.

Overall México Bárbaro II contains typical indie video footage made with newer digital cameras suitable for BD with enough viable detail and crisp definition.

Audio

Each short film receives 5.1 Spanish DTS-HD MA audio, though some take better advantage of the surround potential than others. There’s a well-developed sense of immersion with occasional bursts of discrete separation, powered by a healthy low-end presence. Spanish dialogue is nicely centered and cleanly placed within the wider dynamics at play from the underlying score.

Optional English subtitles play in a yellowish font. Secondary Spanish 2.0 PCM audio in stereo is offered.

Extras

Credit to Unearthed Films for rescuing México Bárbaro II and issuing it on Blu-ray years after it hit the festival circuit. The 2017 Mexican horror anthology receives several special features which are mostly in Spanish. English subtitles are offered for them. The disc is coded for Region A. Rawside Entertainment issued the film in Germany, locked to Region B.

The included featurettes often include behind-the-scenes filming and interviews with crew members.

México Bárbaro II Theatrical Trailer (01:53 in HD)

Stills Gallery (01:36 in HD)

“La Leyenda de Juan Soldado” Featurette (09:12 in HD)

“Bolas de Fuego” Featurette (07:59 in HD)

“No Te Duermas” Featurette (03:22 in HD)

“Exodontia” Featurette (02:31 in HD)

“Vitriol” Behind The Scenes & Gallery (08:36 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

México Bárbaro II
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

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Nine Mexican directors deliver blood-soaked tales of terror and gore South of the Border in this punishing horror anthology

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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