Growing up in Mexico City, filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero remembers that as a child, one of her favorite things to do was to go to Blockbuster and walk down the horror movie aisle. Guerrero had a very religious upbringing, so horror movies were forbidden in her home.
“I would just imagine what all the title covers were about and wondered why I wasn’t allowed to watch,” Guerrero told Remezcla during a recent interview.
When she was eight years old, Guerrero was letting her imagination get the best of her inside Blockbuster when she caught a glimpse of the VHS cover of Child’s Play 2. It featured the villain, a killer doll named Chucky, about to slice off the head of a petrified toy. It was too much for Guerrero. She had to see the movie. Knowing that her mother would never rent it for her, she did the only thing she could think to do. She stole a copy.
“The cover of that movie was so visceral to me as a kid,” Guerrero said. “I had a lot of toys, so I needed to see what it was about. There was something about it that scared me and thrilled me at the same time. That was my first experience watching a scary movie.”
That experience was one that helped put her on a path to become a horror filmmaker. After directing several shorts, segments in anthologies, and episodes in TV series, Guerrero, whose nickname in filmmaking circles is La Muñeca del Terror, has just made her feature directorial debut with Bingo Hell.
The movie stars Academy Award-nominated actress Adriana Barraza (Babel) as Lupita, the matriarch of a community who is fed up with the gentrification taking place in her barrio. When their cherished local bingo hall goes up for sale, Lupita and her group of elderly friends decide they’ll risk everything to save the game they love.
The idea for Bingo Hell was conjured up by Guerrero and co-writer Shane McKenzie when they started talking about how much his mother-in-law and her grandmother enjoyed playing bingo and lotería. During the discussion, McKenzie asked Guerrero a question that would become the basis for their movie: What would happen if we took bingo away from them?
“You should see my abuela play lotería,” Guerrero said. “It’s no joke. It’s like a religion. She’s very much who Lupita is in the movie.”
With her first feature film in the can, Guerrero is ready to tackle whatever kind of horror movie comes her way next – unless, of course, it’s a movie about an exorcism. Although she saw The Exorcist when she was nine (and loved it), she admits she is terrified to make a movie about anything with demons.
“I’m very Catholic,” she said. “I don’t want to open a portal that I’m not supposed to. I would need it in my contract that a priest must be on set every day. If there is a padrecito, then I’m in.”
Bingo Hell is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.