From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Part of Hooptober

I’m currently reading Sady Doyle’s DEAD BLONDES AND BAD MOTHERS, so I found it a little hard not to interpret the first barroom brawl scene as women shaking off their subservience and asserting their power, followed by men punishing them by killing them with their big “stakes”. It’s also clear that Rodriguez and Tarantino don’t give much of a shit about their female characters here—Juliette Lewis’s Kate is the one who comes closest to having something resembling an arc, as well as a few moments of agency, but at the end of the film George Clooney basically gives her a patronising speech and a wad of cash that can’t possibly make up for her losses, and then leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere and that’s that.

Despite that, I had a decent time with FROM DUSK TILL DAWN! We don’t really get the bravura performances that you normally get in a Tarantino-scripted film, but in most cases the actors (yes, even Tarantino himself, and even Ernest Liu) do a good enough job to sell their characters. (The one stand-out, for me, was Kelly Preston as the newscaster—her barely concealed glee at the Gecko Brothers’ trail of bloodshed was the stuff of good satire.) Similarly, the script isn’t Tarantino’s sharpest but it gets the job done. I think the MVPs here though are Rodriguez and his cinematographer Guillermo Navarro: the efficient editing and compelling visuals made me stick with the film even at its most questionable, and they didn’t make me resent the fact that I had to wait over an hour to get less than forty minutes of the vampire stuff. A lot of fun choices as well, including *both* of Tom Savini’s transformations and the temple reveal at the end (though I feel like there’s potentially a lot there to unpack in terms of what the film may be accidentally implying about colonialism).

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