Our Daily Trailer: CRONOS

Vampire Week continues with Guillermo del Toro's knockout first film.

Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed his first feature film, Cronos, at the age of 29, and it's something of a marvel that a man in his 20s, even his very late 20s, can deliver so elegant a treatise against the cruel obduracy of time. At heart, all vampire fiction is about our dread of mortality (well, except Twilight, which is about exactly nothing). But Cronos, with its awesome golden clockwork scarab, its mysterious alchemy and beautiful gore, is nevertheless wholly founded on the performance of Federico Luppi as a gentle grandfather who finds himself faced, almost unwillingly, with the prospect of eternal life. 

Cronos is a lovely film, poignant and sophisticated, one that evidenced del Toro as a master storyteller right out of the gate. It's quite funny, too, mainly in the scenes involving the director's first partnership with Ron Perlman as the nephew of a monstrous millionaire who will do anything to possess the cronos device for himself.

The movie is at turns dark, horrifying, absurd: but running through it, always, is a simple, comforting idea: the belief that the love of those around us is what makes us immortal. The relationship Jesus Gris (yes, that's Luppi's character's name, and while the film lacks subtlety it's an intentional, fairy tale sort of obviousness) shares with his granddaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath) gives him a lasting power the cronos device can never offer. That relationship is the beating heart of Cronos, and it gives the film its own sort of permanence, an abiding quality beyond that of many vampire flicks of its kind. 

If you're enjoying a bunch of horror movies this month and you've never seen Cronos, promise me you'll rectify that right away - the Criterion Collection edition (linked below) is stunning, or you can rent/buy it on Amazon Instant Video here