Cine Las Americas Review: El Vigilante

Clasutrophobic Mexican crime drama finds enigma in shadows

Mexican First-time filmmaker Diego Ros has set a high bar with El Vigilante (The Night Guard), a Spanish-language thriller that follows a security guard on the night shift who arrives to a shocking scene at the construction site where he works: crime scene tape, police, and a suspicious van.

Chava (Leonardo Alonso), is just trying to get home, but is dragged through a series of perplexing events by his partner on the shift, Hugo (Ari Gallegos). Each one has Chava questioning the motives of the people he interacts with, and Alonso does a superb job expressing this skepticism with his performance. The film has a small cast – really just Chava, Hugo and a police officer – but each performance is delivered ably.

Although the film is confined to the construction site, Ros and cinematographer Galo Olivares do an impressive job making each shot feel unique and purposeful. Olivares has a delightful time creating long shadows in the dimly lit sets that add to the film’s sense of atmospheric dread.

El Vigilante is well-acted, even though it is occasionally bogged down by a meandering script, but it is pulled together by Ros’ control of tempo and tone.

Cine Las Americas International Film Festival ran May 2-6. For more on the festival, read "Not Just the Border," April 27.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Cine las Americas
Cine Las Americas Review: <i>Niñas Araña</i>
Review: Niñas Araña
Life in Chile's slums, close enough to wealth to touch it

Austin Sanders, May 7, 2018

Cine Las Americas Review: <i>Arábia</i>
Review: Arábia
Tales from the workforce, drowning

Richard Whittaker, May 7, 2018

More by Austin Sanders
D.A.-Elect José Garza Taps Reform Advocates for His Team
D.A.-Elect José Garza Taps Reform Advocates for His Team
It's a new day in court for Austin's top law enforcement office

Nov. 18, 2020

Council Recap: Taking It (For) the Streets
Council Recap: Taking It (For) the Streets
New impact fee plan makes its first trip to the dais

Nov. 13, 2020


Cine las Americas, CLAIFF, Cine las Americas International Film Festival, El Vigilante, The Night Guard

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle