Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Barrio Tales is Side-splitting in More Ways than One: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Phase 4 Films.

**there are spoilers here.

Director: Jarret Tarnol.

Writer: Brent Tarnol.

Cast: Alexander Aguila, Carson Aune, Adam Beesely, Hunter Cope, Ana Corbi, Isait De La Fuente, David Fernandez Jr., Maritza Graciela, Aaron Jaeger, Alfredo De Leon, Fabian Lopez, and Oscar Lopez.

Barrio Tales is a co-production from brothers Jarret and Brent Tarnol. Barrio simply means neighbourhood in English. In the film, Barrio is a mysterious place in Mexico where most of the characters are from or going to. This horror title consists of four short stories titled: "Maria," "Uncle Tio's Taco Truck," and "El Munstruo." There is also a wraparound story that begins the film, interjects itself inbetween the other stories and finishes out the film. Many of the short stories involve social commentaries on Mexican workers, while the film is fairly humourous overall. Barrio Tales is another enjoyable horror film that focuses more on the comedy than the eye-gouging thrills.

All of the short stories offer a laugh or two. The wraparound begins the film as two twenty-somethings search for drugs just south of the Mexican and American border. They are looking for Pedro (Adam Beesly), but they find murder and robbery instead. The second tale and first official chapter is titled "Maria." In this story, a Spanish speaking housekeeper (Ana Corbi) is teased and humiliated by four entitled, young men. Maria is killed accidentally, but Maria's granny has a curse or two up her sleeve. Grandma finds revenge and the four male characters find torture. The next story up is "Uncle Tio's Tack Truck." Here, Uncle Tio (David Fernandez Jr.) likes to dice up the local teenagers for his extra spicy tacos. Soon, Tio is running out of customers as most are stuffed into the taco sauce. One girl finally steps up to take Tio down. The final story, "El Munstruo," deals with a group of rednecks and their torturous ways. They like to torment local border-crossers, for no apparent reason. It is nice to see one group of immigrants escape to turn the tables on this crazed family. All of these stories are told tongue-in-cheek.

Most of the laughs come from the characterizations. The two youngsters looking for drugs seem oblivious to the fact that they are being hustled. Pedro is not coming to sell them drugs and viewers will begin to realize quickly that "The Poet" and storyteller is setting them up for a murderous fall. The best characterization developed by writer Brent Tarnol is that of Tio. Tio usually has a leer in his mannerisms. There is something wrong with this chef. When the story mentions kidnappings, the viewer will again clue into the film's premise. But, it is still enjoyable to watch Tio walk around with blood soaked shoes, while peering in through a young teenager's window. There is something in that sinister smile. The characterizations are a little underdeveloped in the final short "El Munstruo," but this showing still manages to keep the tension going.

Within the humour, there is a social commentary in Barrio Tales. The major message for this viewer: don't buy your drugs in Mexico! Otherwise, you might meet a one-eyed monster like Pedro, who likes to slice and dice his visitors. With that joke aside, the film also makes light of the desperation of migrant workers. All three of the central stories involve migrant workers or second generation labourers. Maria is seeking respect from her employers and the ending of this tale suggests that she deserves some sort of esteem. In "El Munstruo," the poorly treated migrant workers turn the tables on their kidnappers. This tale also serves as a warning to respect illegals. Many of these situations are delivered in a light-hearted manner, however. The humour is more prominent in the film. So, Barrio Tales is best enjoyed, rather than analyzed for its underlying themes and topics.

Barrio Tales will be released in Canada and America January 22nd on DVD and this critic would recommend that horror fans pick up this title. As long as you like comedy with your horror, then you will find something to smile about in this outing. This film is full of humourous lines and scenarios. The social commentaries offer a lair of depth not scene in many horror films. And, Barrio Tales will tickle the sides of many viewers as the Tarnol brothers make light of Spanish myths and long tales.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

The film's official website is here:

Barrio Tales at Tarnol Group Pictures

Release details for this film are available at Phase 4 Films:

Barrio Tales at Phase 4 Films

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