So, Rider Strong (Cabin Fever, Boy meets World) a Paul Walker look alike (Jake Muxworthy)and a Jim Caviezel look alike (Brian Presley) walk into a bar in Mexico.....I dunno if this joke has a punchline, but if it did it'd probably have something to do with them all being Hollywood 'D' listers, or something to that effect.
All jokes aside, this movie is pretty damn good, despite being a part of the 8 Films To Die For collection, which isn't always filled with terrible films, but when it is.......The three earlier mentioned characters find themselves joined by a pretty favorable cast of no names, apart from Sean Astin (Encino Man, Lord of The Rings) who plays a role not originally thought by me to be in his wheelhouse. Tobacco chew spitting psychopathic cult follower just doesn't scream Sean Astin to me, but he did a pretty fair job. As did most others in the film. The three main characters are a bit cliched in the way they were written, making them a little bit less sympathetic, but they get the job done without ruining any of the stronger points in the film. The story is loosely based off of a drug cartel kingpin who performed human sacrifices in the name of Satan to further his drug running success, so you can imagine where the story here goes. Good subject matter, although not the most original, aptly handled by the screenwriters, and not too badly handled by the cast.
I really enjoyed the style in which this film was shot. It really did justice to the desperate, sweaty, hot, bloody and dusty area that is the Mexican American border. The grit and hopelessness of the story came through very well visually, lending the film a degree of evil that it may not have attained without the production.
The gore in this one is, by far, its most winning aspect. While it's not a full on torture porn, it still has a good amount of those types of scenes. People being liberated of their eyes, scalping, tongue removal and much more. To go along with the more captive and intimate violence is a healthy dose of action movie gore, gun fights and machete battles are strewn everywhere across this hellish Mexican landscape leaving any would be tourists who watch this movie with second and third thoughts.
This is definitely one of the better, if not second best (behind Frontier[s]) movie associated with the 8 films.... franchise. While it's not re-inventing the wheel, it's doing some fun stuff that is made all the more creepy by its association with actual events.
7/10 detached retinas