The Demons Are Among Us
Leg of a Dog, Heart of a Chicken
The Hidden Children
An Arcane Incantation
A Woman Diablero
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.
Verdict - 6/10