Geometria (1987/dir. Guillermo del Toro/Mexico)

So, while looking up Mexican Visonary Guillermo Del Toro’s early picture Cronos (which I intend to find a library copy of and watch soon), I discovered that he has a very much earlier short picture that he made in 1987 called Geometria (Geometry). So far and disappointingly, my downward mood and events in my life have led me to only see one horror movie this month, Spielberg’s ever adventurous stalker shark picture Jaws (one of my favorite movies for so many reasons). This premise itself sounded unusually wacky for a Del Toro picture, whose works (the masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth,CronosThe Devil’s Backbone, etc.) usually center on anti-establishment, fantastical escapism and insane designs bordering between the modern and ancient that you really don’t see these days. The closest thing to silliness that the man has made was the Hellboy series and well-enough, he gave it such a human treatment – especially with the two inhuman leads, with help from the surprisingly magnanimous (in consideration of his numerous villain roles) Ron Perlman and the master of movement dynamics Doug Jones – that we can treat it as a relatable tale of not letting how you came unto the world define who you are as a person (possible racial message? or broken home? Maybe I’m reading too much into it) while the second Hellboy picture was classic Del Toro in design and treatment, in the same way Batman Returns was Tim Burton’s self-indulgence. Granted, Blade II was not really one of those Del Toro pieces, but I just treat that one as a bad movie I really like anyway.

One of my favorite filmmakers.
Look at him, he’s just one of us. Another nerd who loves what he does.

So, when I hear Del Toro’s short was about a high school kid (Fernando Garcia Marin) who summons a demon to keep himself from failing geometry, I’m wondering how Del Toro’s going to treat it like a social piece like he does with any movie he makes. Sure, enough I find the director’s cut (in Spanish, a language I don’t understand, but I trust in Del Toro’s visual language to keep watching anyway) on YouTube and find that it’s completely farcical yet still enjoyable. Del Toro had fun with it, it’s like a comic book by Dario Argento is how it is. There’s a really funny little movie-in-a-movie that the boy’s mother (played by Guadalupe del Toro – I don’t know if she has a relation to Guillermo at all, possibly his mother) watches in the other room that happens to be a bootlegged version of the Exorcist, complete with an obnoxious all-synthesizer rendering of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’. The bubblegum chewing demon of the picture, despite being played by a man – Rodrigo Mora, seems to himself be a throwback to the Pazuzu-possessed character by Linda Blair.

Qué un día excelente para un examen de geometría.
I so wish that were a line in the movie.

Halfway through the picture, a zombie version of the kid’s dad, looking like something out of a 50s Science Fiction Monster movie, comes in and the fakest, least gory style kills the mother to the ominous 80s synthesizer score. It’s laughably bad and yet really great to see how imaginative Del Toro was even at his roots to treat this demon story with such a homage-riding yet inspired style that fits the content so very well. The Super 8 footage of the movie’s rendering and the red and blue shadowy cinematography of Mario Bava’s wet dreams beg this movie to have some kind of an old-school VHS release, which I know will never happen but one can dream. Eventually, I found a youtube version (a 9-minute original version that Del Toro reportedly did not like) with English subtitles and was able to follow the story more thoroughly than what I already could tell.

The twist of the film, despite leading to an extremely grim ending, was enjoyably novel. That was creative writing on their part and I found myself chuckling along with the demon when he delivered the facts that sealed the fates of the other characters. I couldn’t help it. It was ironic, I’m sure you’d all do the same.

All things said and done, this short I’d give a 8 out of 10. Considering where it started and what kind of a filmmaker eventually came out of it, it’s a treat to see, particularly on a month which I made a habit of watching horror movies. It’s not perfect, but in my eyes, it’s very very close. Fun fact: Despite my current mathematical status, I failed my freshman geometry course once (out of sheer laziness), so I somewhat relate.

I have a friend whose favorite movie, from what I understand, is Pan’s Labyrinth. Who could argue with that? Anyway, he mentioned that if he ever met Del Toro, he would ask him why his movies are so depressing. I personally disagreed, mentioning that he seems to show great sympathy for the characters in his movies (even sometimes the villains) and my friend rebutted that with a particularly good argument on the editing and shot choices in Pan’s Labyrinth. Then we both humorously mused on whether or not he realized it, given his usual jolly manner and subtle humor in many of his pictures despite the horrific themes, and how he’d react to such a question and it ended up somewhat like ‘I had no idea they were depressing… huh.’

‘I will look into it and address this issue.’

Geometria can be watched at this link. In the case that any of the individuals involved in the ownership or creation of the short film see this and ask me to remove the link (possibly to salvage sales for Cronos‘ Criterion release), I will politely oblige on request.

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