News / Film, Remezcla

Apocalypto: Your guide to the end of the world in Latin Film

Remember how, a few months ago, Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on May 21st, 2011? Do you remember how, when the world didn’t end, he pushed the date of the Rapture to six months later?

Yeah?

Well “six months later” is tomorrow, October 21st. (At 6 PM, to be exact.) Are you ready for the end? We didn’t think so. Then again, this isn’t the first time anyone’s predicted the end of the world. Hell (no pun intended), this won’t even be the first time Camping himself has predicted it: originally, the Rapture – when the faithful will be taken away before the end of the world, an idea popularized by 18th Century American Puritans – was set by Camping’s dubious math to occur in 1994. Of course, we all remember Y2K, and the Hailey’s Comet cult, not to mention the last end of the world fad, 2012. (21, as in May 21st and October 21st, is 12 backward. COINCIDENCE?! Yes. Stop it.)

Here at Remezcla, we prefer our doomsday predictions to have less Jesus and more zombies, less Rapture and more dystopian oppression. After all, when all the virtuous folk get spirited away to live in Heaven, those of us left behind are going to have one hell of a party. Here’s five recent Latino films about the end of the world to prepare you for life next week in our shiny new wasteland.

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Adios, Querida Luna (2004) – In this 2004 Argentine sci-fi comedy, the Earth has been wracked with natural disaster after natural disaster. (Sound familiar?) An Argentine scientist comes to the conclusion that, since the Earth’s axis and tidal forces are affected by the moon, destroying the moon will fix everything. When the international community enacts sanctions on Argentina for unilaterally sending up a manned bomb-the-moon mission, the government is forced to abort, stranding the three astronauts – played by Gabriel Goity, Esteban Ulloa, and Silvia Flechner – in space. Oh, and there are aliens. It only gets weirder.

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Children of Men (2006) – We’ve taken some flak in the comments section before for calling this a Latino film, but we’re going to keep doing it, merilly blowing you a raspberry as we do. We’re thrilled that Alfonso Cuarón, a Mexican born and educated film director, is making movies that aren’t just about life in Mexico, including far and away the best of the Harry Potter films. Children of Men, starring Clive Owen, takes place in a near future UK, in a world where no child has been born in 18 years. Faced with its own obsolesence, civilized society is crumbling, England is a police-state, and Clive Owen finds himself at the center of a plot to smuggle a young African immigrant who may be the world’s only pregnant woman to people who can help her. Late in the movie there’s one sustained follow shot down a stairwell in near silence that’s worth the whole ticket price; Cuarón’s visual style is put on full display, and the movie transcends.

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La Antena (2007) – In an unknown future, in an unknown city, citizens have been robbed of their voices – people communicate by mouthing out words that are spelled in midair. Except, of course, for La Voz, a mysterious woman who works for the city’s only television channel, which is run by the tyrannical Mr. TV, who plans to broadcast her voice in a diabolical scheme to subdue and enslave the populace. This Argentine work lovingly recreates the style of early silent films (it owes a lot to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, lost footage from which was just found last year in Buenos Aires) even as it creates an in depth visual style all its own. It’s a delight to watch something so original.

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Sleep Dealer (2008) – Memo (Luis Fernando Peña) is a “sleep dealer” in a dystopian future where workers spend much of their day jacked into a virtual network, a la The Matrix, remotely controling machines. As a sleep dealer, Memo’s job is to make sure workers don’t die of exhaustion. This award winning scifi film wins points with us for not just being a really movie, but also for wondering specifically about Mexican culture in this technological dystopia – Memo longingly watches American TV, the jacked in workers are essentially still poor Mexican laborers, and people who can illegally give you the implants to plug into the virtual world (essentially smuggling you into it) are called “coyoteks.”

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REC (2008) – You didn’t think you were going to go without a zombie apocalypse on this list, did you? The title is a reference to the text displayed when a videocamera is recording, and this Spanish horror flick, cowritten and codirected by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, is indeed shot in that shaky cam/faux documentary/found footage style that worked so well in The Blair Witch Project but couldn’t save Cloverfield. Manuela Velasco plays Angela, the host of a TV show called “Mientras Usted Duerme,” is documenting life in a firehouse with her cameraman, Pablo, when they’re invited along on a call. When they arrive, they find that things are more complicated than they were expecting, and when the government quarantines the apartment building, things only get worse. The end is terrifying. Don’t waste your time with the 2009 American remake, Quarantine.