So you’ve seen every episode of Narcos and still want more? Well, I present you El Infierno, a Mexican dark humor comedy exploring the drug war and cartels. It uses satire to make this difficult and complex subject a bit more approachable. Mass murders, decapitations, and mutilations go a lot smoother with a couple of jokes. And they need to be seen. They show a brutal, everyday reality of life in Mexico, where corruption is the system and cartels have a firm grip on the economy. Narcos tv show came out in 2016 and offered a very structured and engaging look at these problems. Here, we have the same flashy visuals, quality of acting, and script but with a bitter aftertaste. It comes from the destinies of ordinary people who are suffering the most through all this. All the while politicians and criminals are making millions.
I know that this intro sounds a bit jumbled and disjointed, but every time I think about this my emotions start going. I want to say so many things and look at the situation from different angles that I eventually come off as preachy, superficial, and pretentious. El Infierno is exactly the opposite of this. Its disarming approach and bizarre scenes are perfectly punctuating the surreal nature of life in this beautiful country. So, let’s focus on the movie and leave the rant for the very end. Starring Damián Alcázar and Joaquín Cosio, two guys whom you might remember from Narcos as Gilberto and Don Neto, this is a crime epic. The runtime is a whopping two and a half hours, so you’ll need to dedicate an entire evening to this movie. Trust me, it will be worth it.
The first thing you’re going to notice about El Infierno is the beautiful cinematography. Vivid colors and crisp-clear focus create a very appealing visual style. This is not some low-budget effort but a huge project directed by Luis Estrada, an expert in this subject. You might wanna check out La ley de Herodes or Herod’s Law, his movie from 1999 dealing with corruption in cities. In this movie, however, we will be exploring life in the rural areas of Mexico. It will show us how things become fucked up. How good men end up becoming the devils. And all that with a healthy dose of dark humor. Humor that’s not only generated by hilarious and at the same time incredibly sad story but also smart dialogue. This is also a movie filled with graphic scenes of violence and murder along with a couple of steamy nude scenes.
Benny left Mexico some twenty years ago in search of a better life in the USA. Now, he’s back in his small rural hometown. His mother, living in poverty, tells him that his brother was killed some time ago. Apparently, he started working for a local drug lord and was killed by a rival gang. Benny also finds out that his brother had a wife and a kid and decides to take care of them. Mostly because he fell in love with his brother’s widow. He starts looking for work and finds a job at a local car repair shop. However, he will need a lot more money if he wants to take care of things. As luck would have it, his old friend El Cochiloco has a lucrative proposition for him.
Chinga tu madre cabron! Hot damn, I just love how Mexican Spanish sounds like. It’s so juicy and full of passion and energy. However, underneath all the cool lingo and violence, is a basic human drama. The contradictions are stark and jarring. In a system of values where family is everything, brothers are killing brothers. Not to mention the poor children. Again, I have to blame the tribal system of values for all of this. This is not just a problem in Mexico, it’s a problem in every country in the world. The misfortune that Mexico is situated on the road between the biggest consumers and manufacturers of drugs only amplified that. To change how things are, you will have to change the system of values. And that’s an incredibly complicated undertaking.
Mostly because it requires a person to change not only the perception of oneself and others but also the entire world. I double promise that I will write about this in more detail in a special article. It’s about time to get in the nitty-gritty of how things work. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like El Infierno check out Chicano epic Bound by Honor (Vatos Locos forever). In addition to that we have American Me starring Edward James Olmos. Next up is the international selection consisting of City of God, Trash, and Elite Squad. In the end, La Haine features a different visual style but deals with almost the same subjects. And as a bonus recommendation we have a documentary The Last Narco.
Director: Luis Estrada
Writer: Luis Estrada, Jaime Sampietro
Cast: Damián Alcázar, Joaquín Cosio, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, María Rojo, Elizabeth Cervantes, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Salvador Sánchez
Fun Facts: Part of trilogy that inclueds Herodes’ Law and The Perfect Dictatorship.