Into the Dark 10: Culture Shock

Rating:

A VERY STRANGE MOVIE ABOUT IMMIGRATION

Main Cast: Martha Higareda and Richard Cabral

Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero

Okay, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I am probably not the demographic they were going after with the Fourth of July installment of Hulu’s INTO THE DARK series, CULTURE SHOCK.  But I’ll give it a shot.

We start in Mexico with Marisol (Martha Higareda, BORDERLAND) as she’s trying, for the second time, to buy passage to the US.  The first time, she got raped then left behind.  Now she’s about to have her baby and is desperate to do so in the States.

Only this second attempt is foiled and Marisol wakes up in a house, dressed in clean clothes and having already delivered her baby.

Betty, the woman whose house she is in, insists she’ll take care of the baby while Marisol goes outside and tries to acclimate to her new surroundings, which, Betty says, is in the United States.  Marisol does so, meets the town mayor (Shawn Ashmore, X-MEN), but at some point faints and wakes up again the next day, in different clothes, back at Betty’s house.

Once again, Betty insists she can look after the baby while Marisol goes out and helps the town with the decorations for the upcoming Fourth of July celebration.

Once again, Marisol faints and, when she comes to, she’s back in Betty’s guest room.

Desperate to get to the bottom of what’s going on, Marisol follows the mayor one day and where he leads her is to the last place she ever have imagined.

And this is where we get to the part I mentioned upfront, how I don’t think I’m the audience for this movie.  Horror in movies and books is, for me, based on characters being in situations I could conceivably find myself in and things going to hell from there.  I will never find myself in the position of trying to cross the border.

Written by Efren Hernandez and James Benson, with director Gigi Saul Guerrero, CULTURE SHOCK tells a very specific story for a very specific audience.  I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the movie—it was a good movie—I just didn’t find the “horror” in it because I couldn’t put myself in that situation.  I’m not a traveler by any stretch of the imagination, whether to another country or even another state.  All my stuff is HERE, you know?

However, while I didn’t find CULTURE SHOCK to be particularly frightening, I did find some really good performances.  Martha Higareda gives Marisol a strength inside her vulnerability that I see some actors go for and fail to reach, but Higareda pulls it off.  Marisol is determined despite her fear of failure a second time, and when the turn comes in act three, she presses on, still fearful for her baby, but even more determined now.  A lot of characters in a lot of movies face seemingly impossible odds and keep fighting, but Marisol really seems to be on the receiving end of some seriously bad karma, and that just makes her even more determined to pull through.  I dug it.

Another standout was Shawn Ashmore as the mayor.  His character also takes a turn midway through and it’s fun to watch Ashmore giving basically two performances that serve the same purpose.

If I had to find a fault here, it would be underuse of Richard Cabral who plays Santo, another character crossing the border with Marisol who winds up in the same place she does, and who I don’t think has ever given anything less than a perfect performance and who was given way too little to do here, especially when he disappeared from the story for a good chunk of Marisol’s journey.  I very much wanted to see his character’s journey as well, and his development as things progressed.  But, I guess it wasn’t his story. Overall I enjoyed CULTURE SHOCK enough to recommend it, but with the caveat that I, personally, didn’t find it all that scary.  Even the moments that were played for creeps were only minimally effective.  But that’s me, it may have an entirely different effect for you.  Give it a shot.

More Into the Dark

The Body

Flesh and Blood

Pooka!

New Year, New You

Down

Treehouse

I’m Just F*cking With You

All That We Destroy

They Come Knocking

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