Ladronas de Almas (Soul Robbers)

It’s looters vs. old-school zombies during the Mexican War of Independence.

Leave it to the current renaissance in Mexican horror cinema to turn its attention to the Euro-horror genre with Juan Antonio de la Riva’s Ladronas de Almas (Soul Robbers), though it also shares DNA with Mexico’s own Aztec Mummy films from the 1950s. (The opening text says the film is based on the “true facts of the life of Maria Cordero,” which is up there with the Coens calling Fargo a true story.)

During the War of Independence in 1815, a group of insurgents looking for lost gold happen upon a hacienda inhabited by the wheelchair-bound Agustín Cordero (Ricardo Dalmacci), his daughters Maria (Sofía Sisniega), Roberta (Natasha Dupeyrón), and Camila (Ana Sofía Durán), and their Haitian servant Indalesio (Harding Junior). The insurgents soon learn that not only are the harmless-seeming Cordero women handy with knives, but the hacienda’s primary line of defense against looters are zombies. They’re less post-Romero flesh-eaters than Lewton-era undead — hence the significant presence of a Haitian. A story that once might have been filmed in grainy Techniscope, director de la Riva shoots much of Ladronas de Almas by firelight in long takes with fluid camera movements, still finding plenty of dread in crisp HD. And if the final two shots don’t set up an ass-kicking sequel, then we’ve been robbed.

Ladronas de Almas
(Soul Robbers)
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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