An aging antique dealer, Jesus Gris, happens upon an elegant mechanized scarab hidden inside a roach infested arch angel. When tinkering with the device it opens and latches to the old man's hand. Once bandaged Gris experiences uncontrollable itching and irritation from the wound. He slowly notices he's also gaining a youthful vigor and tabooish need for blood.
Meanwhile, the device is relentlessly being pursued by a dying obsessor whose nephew, Angel(Ron Perlman), will stop at nothing to get to get the scarab.
Gris's urges continue, his body changes, and his addiction the scarab becomes equivalent to that of Gollum and The One Ring. The only thread of sanity Gris holds is his lovely little granddaughter who witnessed the scarab's sudden attack and observes the downward evolution of her grandfather.
After the brilliance of Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone it was neat to see del Toro's first film. Although not half as great Cronos carries all the DNA that made these films stand out. This film also established the crucial relationship between Perlman and the rising director. The friendship solidified when Perlman volunteered to cut his salary in half when the film began creeping over budget. Later, del Toro returned the favor by casting him in Blade 2 and making him a superstar with the Hellboy series.
Although the film is laced with artistic potential and obviously establishes a formula for this rising filmmaker, it still lacks many of the elements that a seasoned Del Toro might now have grasped. Despite its few lackluster moments and keeping in mind it was his first film, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
These scenes made the movie for me:
1)Gris is lying half naked against the bathroom wall with the Cronos device clutched to his chest...feeding his addiction for its sting. His wife and granddaughter knocking on the door.
2)When Gris is at the party and follows the guy with the bloody nose to the bathroom. Lick it up baby.
3)The crematory guy...anything with him. He was one of the best actors of the movie. Besides, it takes an artist to handle these kind of things.
If you are a fan of Del Toro I highly recommend. You'll enjoy watching the director sharpen his craft.