Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Latest Combines A Real-Life Horror with Fantasy
Her provocative film provides a glimpse into how families are separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
I knew when I met Gigi Saul Guerrero in 2013 to talk with her about her short film Dia De Los Muertos, which centered on a group of strippers who take revenge on their customers, the then-23-year-old director would one day be a force to be reckoned with. And I was right.
Ironically, this past Independence Day, Saul Guerrero aka La Muñeca Del Terror (doll of terror), as she’s known by her fan base, made her feature film directorial debut with Culture Shock, which is part of Blumhouse TV Productions’ “Into the Dark,” month-long horror anthology series.
Both timely and frightening, Culture Shock addresses head-on the horrors of politics and immigration. The film’s protagonist is “Marisol,” played by Martha Higareda, star of Altered Carbon, a sci-fi series on Netflix.
Marisol is pregnant and asks a coyote (smuggler) to help her cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Just as she and her group are about to take the final steps across, they are confronted by the Mexican cartel. As a violent scene erupts, Marisol blacks out only to wake up in a surreal Pleasantville-esque world where pastel colors and pastries dominate the landscape. She finds herself in a home where her baby is being cared for by “Betty,” an older White woman, played by Barbara Crampton, who refuses to let her hold the infant, and her friends and family appear to be have been taken by body snatchers and left docile and obedient in their antiseptically pristine new American dream “town.”
Saul Guerrero, 29, explains that Betty represents the family separation happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. The lack of control and the frustration and anxiety of not being able to hold your child; that some higher power has a say over your children.
She says the cartels in Mexico are a real-life danger Mexican people have to live with. “There’s danger and horror everywhere. We’re always escaping something from our own race,” Saul Guerrero says.
Roger Ebert’s website said about Saul Guerrero’s film it’s “ambitious, fascinating, and features the best ensemble yet…