Many famous scary films have become iconic franchises (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street) but many of the scariest films we’ve seen have less gore and more of a fantasy element sometimes pulling from real-life events. If you grew up in a Latinx household, you know how scary Latin American folktales can be like the infamous story of La Llorona known throughout Latin America. La Llorona directed by Jayro Bustamante took it a step further in the Golden-Globe nominated film weaving in horror with the real-life genocidal violence in Guatemala. Then there’s Academy award-winner Guillermo Del Toro who brought to life mythology amid a tumultuous period in Spain for heartbreaking and fantastical tale with some of Hollywood’s most memorable monsters. Read on to learn more about these 10 Latinx horror films to help you find the best film for Saturday move nights this month.
Into The Dark: Culture Shock
Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero directed the film starring Martha Higareda who plays Marisol a pregnant Mexican woman who attempts to cross the border but instead is captured and taken to Cape Joy, a Pleansantville-type town shielding an ugly truth. In her attempt to migrate to the United States and live the American Dream, she ends up discovering an operation of men, women, and even children being tortured and abused.
Into the Dark: Culture Shock is available to stream on Hulu.
Vampires vs. The Bronx
Vampires vs. The Bronx is a super fun vampire flick that was actually shot on location in the Bronx by Dominican filmmaker Oz Rodriguez. This horror movie follows three kids from the Bronx who fight vampires from taking over their neighborhood. In the end, the three kids save their borough with the help of a very special item from their favorite bodega: legendary home run hitter Sammy Sosa’s bat.
Vampires vs. The Bronx is on Netflix.
Madres is a film with Texas roots that was based on the real-life injustices faced by pregnant migrant women in the ’70s in California. Actress Ariana Guerra plays Diana, a Mexican-American writer who is pregnant and married to immigrant Beto while Elpidia Carrillo plays the local curandera. Diana’s husband ends up landing a job in California which is an offer they can’t pass up. Upon arrival Diana makes some horrifying discoveries that leads to an investigation full of twists and turns.
” I wrote it as a horror film because the true horror is what was actually happening to these women and unfortunately it’s still so relevant to this day. It really is a feminist story and I wanted to bring awareness to what was happening to these women through a horror lens,” the film’s co-writer Marcella Ochoa tells HipLatina.
Madres is available on Amazon Prime.
The Old Ways
If you like movies with exorcisms then The Old Ways is the film for you! Brigitte Kali Canales plays Cristina, a Mexican journalist who travels to Veracruz to work on a story about brujeria. While she is there a group of locals kidnap her because they believe that she is the devil incarnated. As the kidnappers attempt to cleanse her soul she also battles with personal issues of her own. This movie has a cast of strong women: Brigitte Kali Canales, Andrea Cortés, and Julie Vera and has haunting imagery so consider this your warning.
The Old Ways is streaming on Netflix.
The Forever Purge
Tenoch Huerta and Ana de la Reguera play Juan and Adela, a married couple who went to Texas to flee the Mexican cartel. They survive their first Purge but unfortunately, the Purge Purification Force’s goal is to “purify America” by killing as many Mexicans as possible. Juan and Adela, along with other survivors, race to cross the border back to Mexico for survival. Not only is this a thrilling story line but the main characters are two bring an authentic voice to the film.
The Forever Purge is available on Amazon Prime
La Llorona is classic Latin American folklore, with variations of the story told across Central and South America. In this particular film, Alma, played by María Mercedes Coroy, is murdered with her children during a military attack in Guatemala. The general who originally orders the attack is found not guilty so Alma returns to haunt him. Not only does this film touch on traditional Latin culture but it highlights the violent history against Indigenous Mayans during the Guatemalan Civil War.
La Llorona is available on Amazon Prime
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Andrew Jacobs and Jorge Diaz play teenagers Jesse and Hector in this supernatural thriller. In the film, their neighbor is murdered and the boys break into the victim’s apartment. Jesse takes a journal from the apartment and ends up with a demonic attachment. This movie shows the strong connection between Latin culture and the spiritual world and it really helps solidify the beliefs of terror (i.e. El Cucuy) that we experienced as children.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is on Netflix
Federico Luppi plays Jesus Gris, an antique dealer who comes across Cronos, a 400-year-old Egyptian bug. This beetle grants him youth and eternal life but thrives on Jesus’ blood. When Jesus finds out that an elderly man is searching for the ancient insect he puts up a fight because he refuses give up his immortality. Cronos was Guillermo del Toro’s first feature film and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Academy Awards.
Cronos is on HBO Max
Guillermo del Toro clearly knows what he’s doing when it comes to horror and fantasy. His film Pan’s Labyrinth tells a tale of mythical monsters and 11-year-old Ofelia, five years after the Spanish civil war. It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland but for grown-ups due to the violence and truly haunting monsters. Ofelia explores an ancient maze and must complete three dangerous tasks in order to become immortal in this magical world she’s uncovered. This film was released in 2006 and is considered one of Del Toro’s greatest films.
Pan’s Labyrinth is on Netflix
Diablo Rojo PTY
This Panamanian film is about a bus driver, his assistant, two policemen, and a priest who travel through the jungle of Chiriqui, Panama. They end up being targeted by a witch and the only thing that can keep them safe is their bus. “Diablo Rojo PTY” is Panama’s first horror feature and even made its way to the Panamanian International Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Stream on Amazon today.