Halloween might be over but that's no excuse to let the horror fade, and Mistress of Bones, the latest short from Gigi Saul Guerrero, brings another of the quick blasts of majestic doom we have come to expect of her and Luchagore Productions.
The simple story sees a pair of grave robbers locate a forest burial ground hiding ancient treasures and re-awaken a battle between a pair of Aztec gods, but a wealth of backstory is implied the limited dialogue. Not only does it efficiently suggest past machinations of the human players who set things off, but also conveys that these minutes are a mere snapshot in a conflict that has played out over millennia, the puny humans caught in the crossfire mere pawns in an enmity that spans eternity.
The titular goddess of the dead Mictēcacihuātl (Nicole Muñoz), emerges backlit by a setting sun to silently challenge the forces being unleashed, looking more like a battle deity than Huītzilōpōchtli, the actual Aztec god of war. A vibrantly adorned mask you can almost swear changes expression between shots reveals only eyes that often seem just a little too wide, as though glaring in fury at the perversion of her domain.
As mesmerising in her warrior’s elegance as she is beautiful in her unchecked ferocity, as she battles the raw savagery of the minions used against her, the focused choreography results in a bloody and brutal fight, while mist swirls in eldritch eddies across the dusty ground arid with the secrets of the dead.
It’s in no way necessary to be familiar with Aztec mythology to understand what's going on, information explicit and implied giving enough of an entry point into a world of monsters, blood magic, living gods, and power so ancient that the modern world has no sway over it, and may well inspire you to read up on the events’ inspirations.
Mistress of Bones is a perfect blend of action and myth that offers a swift, satisfying and quintessentially Mexican tale to chill you as the nights continue to get longer.
You can watch Mistress of Bones here.