written by Juan Madrid, Enrique Renteria, Fernando Sariñana
directed by Fernando Sariñana
by Walter Chaw Fernando Sariñana's grimy Dark Cities (Ciudades oscuras) is essentially a series of hardboiled vignettes that criss-cross in perfunctory ways over the course of one miserable night. Infanticide, rape, castration, long chats with corpses, murder, graft, and a criminal amount of hysterical camera tricks combine in a stew so sour and unintentionally funny that it plays out like the love child of City of Hope and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer--with hookers. Not enough can be said about the invasiveness of Sariñana's camera: it's epileptic and obfuscating when the aspiration is clearly towards some kind of uncompromising vérité. The Bernard Herrmann-inspired strings score identifies the film as an urban horror story (as an homage to Psycho's drain shot identifies the filmmaker as drunk on delusions of grandeur), but with an endless series of melodramatic fits and starts functioning as the meat of the picture, such as it is, it all seems a little too neo-Tarantino silly. Silly, of course, the last thing a shocking exposé can afford to be. Originally published: October 9, 2003.