“Los Chidos” played recently at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It is the new film by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, a musician of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta fame. The movie is a fable that deals with an American stranger who has car trouble and happens on the hapless tire shop owned by the title family, Chidos, and their immoral adventures from that point on.
“Los Chidos” are a mess of a family. The matriarch prays for their worthless souls on a regular basis to no avail — until the Lord enlightens her to do what must be done.
What works: The first half of this movie is almost flawless. The comedic timing by the characters cuts deep. I found myself laughing more at the asides than the main dialogue. Rodriguez-Lopez claimed that his intention was to expose the male psyche — and he does a great job at it. He exposes such themes as domestic abuse and homophobia.
What does not work: This movie unravels into a hot steaming pile of absurdities. The last half of this movie is almost so bad it negates the brilliant first half. I would almost say it’s a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”-meets-“Freeway”-with a touch of “Y Tu Mamá También.” It goes from being a movie built on social satire to unsettling fable on the turn of a dime. This is definitely not a date movie. Rodriguez Lopez insists that there is a message there, but it is hard to dissect between the severed sex organs, cannibalism and incest.
What the audience reacted to: The onscreen goriness was too much for a handful of people, who chose to walk out. I cannot blame them, simply because this movie culminates into a scene so outwardly obscene that it makes the ear cutting scene from “Reservoir Dogs” look like “Looks Who’s Talking.”
The only way I would be able to recommend this movie would be if you walked out after the first act because the film simply snowballs into something that needs defending. Rodriguez-Lopez insists that the American stranger suffers the worst fate of all, but I would disagree, given the “Sopranos”-like ending. Rodriguez-Lopez told us that this movie dealt more with the male psyche than race or ethnicity; however, I feel that race and ethnicity do a play a major role in here.
The Mexican Chidos exploit the American stranger for his money, paying off their debts, tabs and alcoholic sensibilities, but in the end he brings them closer together after by executing a revenge plot against a relative of Los Chidos who kidnaps him and leaves him to die.
I liked this movie, but only because I like some pretty messed up things. I think the last time I turned my head this many times was when I was watching Lawrence Olivier torture Dustin Hoffman in a dentist chair during “Marathon Man.” I do not know if I should feel worse about myself, or simply take a Purel shower in order to make me feel better about my strange tastes.
This is definitely not a date movie.