I really enjoyed the From Dusk Til Dawn movie (thanks to my mum and dad for letting me watch violent movies at a young age!). Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino this fun 1996 film is half crime thriller and the other half vampire frenzy! Now Roderiguez has turned his own movie into a tv series, shown in the US on his EL Rey channel and for the rest of the world on Netflix.
Brothers Seth and Richie Gecko (D.J Cotrona and Zane Holtz) are on the run after Seth has broken out of prison and a bank robbery has gone wrong, killing several people including law enforcement officers. In order to cross the border to Mexico unnoticed they take a family hostage. But escaping from the law is not the Geckos only problems as unbeknownst to them-there are mystical forces at work, who may also be giving visions to Richie making him unstable and dangerous.
It’s a bit hard to describe the TV series. In a word I would say: Interesting. The TV series basically takes the movie and spreads it out over 10 episodes. Some episodes are basically just scenes from the movie expanded and added some extra subplots so it doesn’t feel like the series is just recreating the movie’s greatest hits. The show truly diverts from the film’s plot at about episode seven.
The show enables Roderiguez to expand the myth behind the vampires and there is a lot to do with Aztec snake Gods, goddesses and the nine lords. Some of gets a bit boring and pretentious, trying to make something more epic out of a simple idea that is fine how it is. Some of the changes are also a bit off-putting at time.
One of the main problems is Richie, the deranged and psychopathic Gecko brother. Now again it’s odd because Zane Holtz is actually really good in the role, strangely creepy and intense but with model looks. He’s a better actor than Tarantino in the same role (sorry Quentin-I still love your movies!). But it’s strange seeing this version of Richie being an anti-hero rather than a straight up murderer/serial rapist like in the movie. He even shares a kiss with innocent preacher’s daughter Kate and she describes him as just ‘a tortured soul’. I guess they needed to change the characters a bit for the tv series but it’s just a bit jarring. As his brother Seth, Cotrona is ok but not as naturally charismatic as George Clooney was in the same role. The real weak link in this series is actress Eiza Gongalez, who is just there to look pretty as Santanico Pandemonium. She may be good-looking but when she is made to act it’s a bit painful to watch. Basically she’s just not as memorable as Selma Hayek who would have been great reprising this expanded role.
Even with the changes to the Gecko brothers, they are still not going to be the most sympathetic protagonists. So the Fuller family from the movie are brought back and a new character in the form of ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia). The Fuller’s consist of ex preacher Jacob (Robert Patrick-who was also in the rubbish From Dusk Til Dawn 2 but as a different character ), daughter Kate (Madison Davenport) and adopted son Scott (Brandon Soo Hoo) who are on a road trip after the death of the family matriarch when they are held hostage by the Geckos and the ranger is avenging the death of his partner at the hands of the brothers. All these characters are likeable and sympathetic but you get the feeling that Roderguez is much more interested in the Gecko brothers, hence the changes made to their characters, more on their back story and the possibility of them being some kind of ‘hero brothers’ according to some legend. The last few episodes which focus on some lame labyrinth saw my interest start to dwindle and I was annoyed that the ranger and the Fuller’s family were left as spare parts and – to me-their arcs were unsatisfactorily concluded and rushed. Kate also could be annoying at times although she does get a good fight scene with a chainsaw.
I’m not sure how much of interest it would be to anyone who hasn’t seen the original movie. If you’ve seen the film that this makes for an interesting companion piece but it didn’t keep me entertained enough to be watching the second season anytime soon.