Diablero – Netflix Season 1 Review

 

 

Season 1

Episode Guide

The Demons Are Among Us
Leg of a Dog, Heart of a Chicken
The Hidden Children
An Arcane Incantation
The Conclave
A Woman Diablero
Four Tombs
Red Sky

 

 

Mexican Netflix series Diablero is the perfect example of a show that can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Die-hard horror fans will likely take to the darker elements of the show but be taken aback by the lighthearted humour. Likewise, those going into this looking for something lighthearted and fun will be left disappointed given the suspenseful horror elements at play. What we’re left with then is a show that’s likely to be loved by some, be hated by others and ignored by a whole lot more. With the fragmented remains of this audience split, Diablero pieces together parts of other horror and science fiction shows, stitches them all up and hopes for the best.

The story begins promisingly enough, as an anxious mother puts her child to sleep and goes out to the hallway to investigate a flickering lamp. What follows is our first encounter with the demon kind and the subsequent kidnapping of the little girl. This forces two of our main characters to spring into action, a legendary demon hunter and an exasperated priest, each with their own reasons for hunting the hell-spawn. The wildcard comes in the form of Nancy, a woman possessed with the spirit of other demons in exchange for superhuman strength and agility. Across the space of 8 relatively short episodes the dysfunctional group hunt for the captured little girl and the demon that took her. In the process, they unearth a world-ending event that brings the story back to its clichéd roots.

There are echoes of The Exorcist, Constantine and even Midnight, Texas at play here and individually these styles work surprisingly wel but together it all feels a little too inconsistent. In the right hands, this blend could have been original and unique but the constantly fluctuating tone offsets the balance; you never quite know whether to take the show seriously or not. You never quite get invested enough in the girl’s abduction because the story is so clichéd and riddled with the usual tropes you almost know she’s going to be safe before you’ve even seen it play out. Of course, there are enough twists and turns in the episodes to try to keep this from becoming too predictable and the show itself is a lot of fun, even with the inclusion of a cliched apocalyptic event in the final third of the show.

Technically at least, Diablero is really quite impressive. The first episode in particular features a lot of shots that pan through glass, make good use of imagery and shows off the juxtaposing style of the mundane normal world and the neon-fused underground. The mix of long shots, panning establishing scenes and snappy dialogue all help to give Diablero a suitably epic and quick-paced feel to proceedings as well. It’s just a shame then that the other elements don’t quite match up to this impressive cinematography.

Diablero feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity. While the idea itself is interesting and the three main characters have some good chemistry together, the clichéd story and tonally inconsistent vibe make it a tough sell. There is enjoyment to be had here but there just isn’t enough originality to carry the show forward with the same flair as other cult hits like The Exorcist and Shaun Of The Dead. Stick around for the impressive technicality and the decent acting but don’t be surprised if what you find beyond that fails to resonate as well as it perhaps should.

  • 6/10
    Verdict - 6/10
6/10

1 thought on “Diablero – Netflix Season 1 Review”

  1. Rather late to the party, but I couldn’t agree more. Excellent review. From your first sentence to your last, this is my reaction. I went searching for a review because I didn’t know if the jarring inconsistency was in my head: awesome camerawork and acting, but a plot that was simultaneously surprisingly novel–there’s a lot to be mined in Mexican folklore in shows to come, I’m convinced–while mired in the most hackneyed, tiresome of tropes.

    [I remember how in one early episode Keta and Nancy lampshaded the incipient romance between the priest Ramiro and Nancy in a manner so awkward that I had to rewind the scene because I thought, “That can’t be what they just said. I must have missed some irony there. There is no way cinematography this great could be paired with a book that shoddy.”]

    Actually, there is one thing. You allude to this with “space of eight relatively short episodes.” I rarely say this, but: it could do with more backstory, more flashbacks [ugh. I know]. Elvis tells us at the start that we’ll understand it all in good time, but story fundamentals are that for a reason. We have to know the rules in the world before we can break them. I know after poking around a bit that the show is based on a book. Maybe the director assumes that the audience is already familiar with this world–as if “The Hunger Games” were made into a series.

    As it stood, I wasn’t exactly confused about what was happening. It was more that because we didn’t see enough of the normal, the abnormal that drove the plot failed to have the resonance that it should have. Not in terms of demons/magic. That I can accept. In terms of characters and motivation. No matter how far-out the premise, if you muck these basic elements up, the story doesn’t have legs.

    For instance, the priest is driven to save his daughter–whom he has never met before. It’s the sort of contrivance that seems clever on paper, but fails to translate emotionally. We the audience know the girl better than he does–at least we met her in one scene before she was kidnapped. So then what should have been an easy lay-up in terms of audience connection–who doesn’t root for a father fighting for his daughter?–instead devolves into team chasing little girl McGuffin.

    Anyhow, I’m frustrated by what could have been, clearly, which is why I’ve typed so much. Maybe the second season will be better. Thanks again for a great review.

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