Movie Review: Mexican father and son hear threats and consider “The Inevitable Death of the Crab”

“The Inevitable Death of the Crab” is a low-heat Mexican thriller about the targets of an extortion threat. It builds from a first half of phone calls that grow more menacing every time somebody picks up — and mostly, they don’t pick up — to a finale of deflating resignation that may explain its cryptic title. Or may not.

The ladies of the house — a mansion, in this case — are heading to Vegas to meet the prodigal daughter who has taken up with a norteamericano That leaves patriarch Carlos (Juan Manuel Zacona) and his son Santiago (Ahcitz Azcona, the film’s writer, director, editor, producer and distributor alone for few games of tennis on their backyard clay court, and free time for a father-son get together with the lad’s godfather (Ricardo Niño).

But there are these phone calls, coming in on their land line. Carlos answers the first, which is of “organized crime has you in its sights”…be a shame if anything happened, pay us protection so that it doesn’t variety, in Spanish with English subtitles.

In a country where the class divide is this stark, where the gangsters have grown more brazen by the generation, with a reputation for corruption as old as the Republic itself, Carlos treats this as the fact of life it might be.

His brother was extorted, but it turned out to be a scam run by inmates from prison. That’s his assumption there. He hangs up on the Jabba the Hutt-growling villain, and stops picking up the phone. He advises Santiago to do the same.

Santiago, we learn, has a hard time following instructions. He won’t just talk to “the thug who’s going to kill you.” He’ll taunt him.

“Oh yeah?” he challenges the caller. “You’re so smart, what COLOR is my house?”

That ups the paranoia of both father and son, who see and hear threats everywhere, in every face they don’t recognize or pick-up truck that pulls up in front for no reason.

A refresher course on just how exposed the Internet — and Google maps in particular — leaves us all comes up. As does a little bitching about how Mexicans are Hollywood’s “favorite villains” these days.

But both men are on edge by what might be coming and the limited options in a state where the police are as unreliable as they are corruptible.

We wonder if one of the men has opened them up to this threat, wonder about online porn playing a part and count the hours until the Vegas vacationers return.

“Crab,” which may take its title from the ever-sideways way it moves, much like Mexican “progress” beyond the point where getting rich comes with kidnapping threats. If there’s another explanation for it, I missed it.

Because is one slooooooow 71 minute thriller. It opens with a remedial archival footage montage, showing Mexican history, strife and politics over the last century. That plays into the fact that all this is happening in the middle an election. There are also a number of false alarms in that first act, moments where the viewer or father or son wonder if their confrontation has arrived.

A favorite has a character with a pastry stuffed in his mouth, gag style, making us wonder if this is breakfast or he’s been taken hostage.

“The Inevitable Death” makes good use of the “inevitable” suspense of two guys facing some sort of reckoning, and not communicating well enough to reason their way out of it.

The minor letdown of the finale sees that suspense reach an intriguing, “inevitable” if not exactly action-packed peak.

Rating: unrated, profanity, threats of violence

Cast: Juan Manuel Zacona, Ahcitz Azcona, Ricardo Niño and Jesus Hernandez

Credits: An Azuma release, on Tubi and Amazon.

Running time: 1:11

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.