Quality animation has long been the realm of wealthy countries with developed film industries, which means seeing an authentically Latin American story in two colorful, hand-drawn dimensions has been limited to a few rare exceptions over the decades. That is, until Mexico City-based Ánima Studios burst onto the scene over ten years ago with its signature brand of slick, Mexican-themed feature animation and folkloric titles like the beloved Leyendas trilogy.
Now, in addition to producing Netflix’s first Spanish-language animated series Las Leyendas, Ánima has released yet another title rooted in Latin American folk mythology and Mexican history entitled La Leyenda del Chupacabras, which is about – you guessed it – the legend of the chupacabras.
Featuring the voices of Eduardo España, Benny Mendoza, and Mayte Cordero, the film takes a few liberties with the real story of an infamous goat-sucking monster, situating him in independence-era 19th-century Mexico, when in fact the story came from 20th-century Puerto Rico. But the premise still provides director Alberto Rodríguez with a convenient pretext to spin a classic tale of adventure in the midst of one of Latin America’s defining independence wars.
The film follows Leo San Juan, the ongoing hero of the Leyendas films, as he makes his way to Puebla and is mistaken for a rebel soldier by royalist forces and imprisoned in an old convent. When a hideous monster begins to terrorize guards and prisoners alike, chaos ensues and Leo must find his way out of the prison before the royalists dynamite the convent (history buffs may be a little irked by the presence of dynamite half a century before its invention, but it’s a cartoon.) In the end, though, Leo discovers that the monster is not at all what it seems.
The trailer shows off a style that will be familiar to followers of Ánima’s previous work without giving away much of anything in the way of plot. In fact, the one-minute eleven-second clip almost plays like a standalone gag featuring two petty thieves digging through their bounty before being scared off by a hideous winged chupacabras. It’s not the subtlest comedy, but should hit the spot for kids and general audiences.
La Leyenda del Chupacabras opens October 14, 2016 in select US theaters.