The debut film of Guillermo de Toro. An old antique dealer, Jesús Gris, and his granddaughter Aurora find a 450-year-old mechanical device shaped like a scarab in the base of a statue. Gris is pierced by the device's legs and stinger and finds himself growing younger but also plagued with cravings for blood. Meanwhile, a dying businessman sends his thuggish nephew (Ron Perlman) to claim the device for himself.
The film was given a Criterion Collection (number 551) release on DVD and Blu-ray with updated subtitles and some nice cover and booklet art by del Toro's friend and frequent collaborator Mike Mignola.
Several elements from Cronos will be familiar to anyone reading/watching The Strain, and vice versa — an elderly antique shop owner, unconventional vampires and an evil old man seeking immortality, for starters.
Contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Angel is pretty charming when he wants to be.
- Alchemy Is Magic: The magical Cronos Device was invented by an alchemist.
- Amulet of Dependency: The Cronos Device, at least during the initial nights after infection. It slowly "purifies" the victim's blood and makes them a vampire in all but name. Failure to use it leads to pain and hunger, though it doesn't quell the eventual thirst for blood.
- Author Appeal: Religious iconography, clockwork, and insects everywhere.
- Body Horror:
- Clockwork Creature: The Cronos Device is operated by multiple gears and houses an immortal insect inside it.
- Contemptible Cover / Covers Always Lie: Several video cases feature a young, implicitly naked woman being stung by the device. There is no character that matches this image, nor does this event even come close to happening in the story.
- The Dog Bites Back: Angel, tired of waiting for his inheritance and fed up with the abuse, kills Dieter.
- The Dragon: Angel to Dieter.
- Dying as Yourself: Jesús decides to smash the Cronos device while he still retains his humanity rather than feed on Aurora's blood, repeating "I am Jesús Gris" to stave off his Horror Hunger.
- Evil Old Folks: Dieter.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Big events in the film take place during Christmas and New Year's. Though the holidays themselves aren't emphasized — it's more subdued, "normalcy of family is gone" type of thing.
- Horror Hunger: Jesus Gris gets this after the third "sting" from the Cronos Device, lusting after blood spilt from a nose bleed in a bathroom, and later once he stabs Dieter.
- Immortality Inducer: The Cronos Device by virtue of infecting the person with what is essentially a non-communicable form of vampirism.
- Immortality Seeker: Dieter.
- Little Miss Badass: Aurora proves to be this in the end.
- MacGuffin Title
- Meaningful Name: It might be a coincidence, but Jesús Gris sounds very similar to Jesus Christ.
- Not Using The V Word: The word vampire is never said.
- Our Vampires Are Different
- The Quiet One: Aurora does not speak for most of the film.
- Ransacked Room: Jesus' shop gets trashed by Angel who was searching for the Cronos.
- Rooftop Confrontation: Jesus and Angel at the end.
- Tap on the Head: Angel knocks Jesus out by kicking him in the head and drags him off to be interrogated.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The US trailer spoils most of the film's major plot points.