Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero
Writers: James Benson, Efren Hernandez, Gigi Saul Guerrero
Cast: Martha Higareda, Shawn Ashmore, Richard Cabral, Barbara Crampton, Jordan Austin Smith, Corey Fogelmanis, Creed Bratton,
Language: Spanish and English
Before deciding to review Culture Shock for Cinepocalypse 2019, I had not heard of the Hulu series Into the Dark. After watching Culture Shock, I want to go back and check out the rest of the series so far. Into the Dark is a horror anthology that comes out monthly with stories that focus on various holidays. With a July release date set Culture Shock takes place around Independence Day.
Culture Shock starts with introducing us to a young woman who is trying to make her way across the border to a perceived better life in America. Before her journey to America begins, she suffers personal setbacks and warnings about the trip. The warnings from others, however, is nothing to the horrors that she encounters after she thinks her journey has ended. Martha Higareda presents a brilliant performance as the young woman heading out on this trip alone. The script required her to shift from a hopeful immigrant to confused and scared step-ford wife. Finally, as the story unfolds, she finds herself running for her life. Best of all, she is believable in every scene she is cast in.
Besides Higareda, we are introduced to Shawn Ashmore, who plays the role of town mayor. While helpful, it is obvious he is up to something sinister. Meanwhile, Creed Bratton plays a part that fans of The Office will find deeply shocking. I honestly did a double take when he first showed up on screen.
Early on Culture Shock makes it obvious that this is not going to be a pleasant trip for any of the passengers. It drops the viewer right in the middle of an attempt to get to the United States. The trip is filled with the standard pitfalls and set in reality. Only after a run-in with US Border Patrol does the story go different direction. Part of what makes the story so compelling is that certain situations are ones that could be happening at our border currently.
Gigi Saul Guerrero is able to present the dangers and the horrors in a realistic way while not coming off as preachy. The choice to leave their country is presented as a personal choice that the characters struggle with. Just as it seems obvious what the next step in the journey is, Guerrero takes it in a direction that could not be predicted. This new reality is something that none of the characters could have never seen coming, and it’s truly disturbing in a Stepford Wives kind of way.
Culture Shock is shot in a way that is jarring but in a good way. There are three distinct points in the movie, and each of them are unique visually. Each part as its own form of tension that they build upon. For fans of psychological horror, this is the movie for you. The are some blood and a little guts, but the driving force behind this horror is the uneasiness that all the characters feel. In the end, it may even make you a little uneasy at those community cookouts this Independence Day.