Tuesday 11 April 2023

REVIEW: Chupa (2023) - Starring Evan Whitten, Demián Bichir and Christian Slater.

Review by Jon Donnis
The moment I heard about this film, I knew I had to watch it, I am a big fan of the Chupacabra myth, and I don't recall ever seeing a film that featured one in such a way, I am sure such films exist but I can't think of one.

In 1996, a government doctor named Richard Quinn (Christian Slater) is on the hunt for the Chupacabra, a mythical creature believed to possess healing powers that could revolutionize medicine. He tracks down a Chupacabra and her cub in an old mine in San Javier but injures the adult while chasing her. The wounded Chupacabra leaves her cub hidden to distract Quinn and his team and lead them away.

Thirteen-year-old Alex (Evan Whitten) travels to Mexico for the first time to meet his extended family after his father Beto dies from cancer. Alex meets his energetic wrestling-obsessed cousin Memo (Nickolas Verdugo), fearless hip cousin Luna (Ashley Ciarra), and former lucha libre champion grandfather Chava (Demián Bichir). On his first night, Alex discovers a young Chupacabra cub licking a cut on his hand. Realizing the creature is "different", he keeps it a secret.

Later, Luna takes Alex and Memo into town to find Chava, who has Alzheimer's disease and often wanders off. At the market, Alex sees a miniature colourful figure that the seller claims is a chupacabra, which he says is not a harmful creature.

On their way back to the ranch, they encounter men searching for evidence of the Chupacabra. They watch a news report on the creature, which Chava dismisses as nonsense and lies. Alex finds a music box in the barn that his grandfather had been playing, and Luna assumes it's a sign of his Alzheimer's.

Alex plays the music box later and attracts a strange creature with cat-like features, bird-like wings, and sharp fangs. He gives it sausages and promises to protect it during a thunderstorm.

This is just a lovely family film. With both English and Spanish spoken throughout, if you are not bilingual, you will need subtitles, but please do not let that put you off. This is a classic story of kids finding an "animal" helping it and then returning it back to the wild, we have seen this kind of story a million times before, but never with a Chupacabra. This is so well made, so well filmed, everything just comes off so well. All of the characters are likeable, and although the general story is a simple one, it is told in a lovely way. Yes, there is some peril, especially towards the end, but never in a scary way, although very young children might not like the adult Chupacabras.

Evan Whitten is the true lead in this film, and he does an excellent job as the young kid who comes from America to get in contact with his roots. Demián Bichir as the older former wrestler is just perfect casting, has Demián Bichir ever been in a bad film? I don't think so. Christian Slater is a great pick as the Government Scientist who wants to capture the Chupacabra, but even he is motivated more by science than just greed, so although he is the bad guy in the film, he is not evil.

I can't say enough good things about this film, I thought it was great, oh and at 88 minutes, it is almost the perfect length, kids will stay interested, as will adults.

The Good
Nearly every aspect of this film is good, the simple story, the visual effects are great, excellent casting throughout. Just a really good film

The Bad
The ONLY bad thing that might put people off is that you will need to read some subtitles for the Spanish bits, this may put off kids, or people who just don't like subtitles on their films. Most of the film is in English, I would say a good 80%, but if you want to really enjoy the whole film, you need to read those subs!

I loved this film. I can't say any more than that.

I score Chupa a fantastic 9.5/10. A simple family film, that hits all the right notes.

Out Now on Netflix