29th Oct2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Origin Unknown’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Daniel Martínez, Lisette Morelos, Paulina Gil, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Arap Bethke, Matías del Castillo, Ramón Medína, José Luis Badalt | Written by Michael Caissie, Rigoberto Castañeda | Directed by Rigoberto Castañeda

Written by Michael Caissie (Hunter’s Moon) and adapted and directed by Rigoberto Castaneda (Blackout), Origin Unknown – aka Sin Origen – is a mash-up of horror and cartel-crime thriller, like Narcos had a baby with Let the Right One In and From Dusk Till Dawn. It’s a curious combo, and one that works very well, with a guy attempting to leave a cartel so he can move on to a normal life with his wife and kids. Of course, this doesn’t exactly go smoothly, and while this is all happening there’s a young girl being hunted by warriors with big ole medieval weapons. It takes gangsters and vampires and creates something pretty damn unique.

It isn’t all mindless action, either, which I almost expected. There’s drama to be found here, and some top draw performances from the actors. Paulina Gil as Lina, is very good, and Daniel Martinez as Pedro, are standouts, for sure. The way the story unfolds, and the nature of Lina’s transformation, is done really well. The way the tone shifts was also terrific. There’s bloody horror to be found here, obviously, but there’s also martial arts, gun fighting and even some damn parkour.

There’s something missing here, though. The film perhaps doesn’t spend enough time building the characters to the point where we don’t really know an awful lot about their lives. I would have liked a bit more there. Still, there’s some wonderful scenes and performances, and Origin Unknown looks gorgeous, too.

The cinematography from German Lammers (By Day and By Night) is wonderful, and the music works very well with the general atmosphere of what’s going down. I mean, a drug runner wanting to get out of a cartel, who takes a young vampire lass under his wings? I’m there. I just wish it had lasted a bit longer and had a touch more depth. The overall style is great, and I had a good time with this movie, though. Mixing genres isn’t always a good idea, and often isn’t successful, but I thought this did a damn good job at melding these two worlds. Warriors, blood, vampires, drugs and rock and roll, Origin Unknown is a fiendishly enjoyable movie, and one that should appeal to many.

*** 3/5

Origin Unknown screened on Sunday October 25th as part of this months Frightfest Digital Edition.


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