El Hombre Búfalo Image

El Hombre Búfalo

By Andrew Stover | November 18, 2021

First-time feature writer-director David Torres aims to explore the perils of Mexican journalism with El Hombre Búfalo (The Buffalo Man), a subdued and caliginous fantastical drama following a young journalist named Eric (Raúl Briones). Being a journalist reporting on corruption in Mexico, Eric’s aware of the dangers of his occupation. In fact, he was prepared to quit after receiving death threats. However, Eric finds himself drawn to the urban legend of the “Buffalo Man,” a creature that’s half-man and half-buffalo.

Beginning with Eric’s tragic death, the movie is composed of flashbacks that highlight Eric’s relationship with another journalist named Juliet (Sofia Alvarez). She, along with Eric, has seen the “Buffalo Man.” Meanwhile, in the present, an unseen woman interviews several people about their connection to Eric. There’s Juliet, of course, but also, a homeless drunk (Antonio Monroi) who may be Eric’s father, and Jonas (José Luis Pérez), the thug who tortured and shot Eric.

El Hombre Búfalo has a slow, measured pace and heady motivations that become increasingly more clear as Eric’s past is gradually revealed. While his fate is sealed in blood, his motives as a self-willed journalist and human being are not known until well into the plot. We also discover that Eric suffers from panic attacks. However, since Torres surrounds the narrative around an urban legend, the thing that triggers his attacks is left needlessly vague.

“…Eric finds himself drawn to the urban legend of the ‘Buffalo Man’…”

The dramatic thriller’s pacing suffers a bit as the past and present interweave in ways that are not entirely fluid or absorbing. Not to mention there is too much inconsequential dialogue. For a 71-minute movie, it’s an issue when scenes can be cut and not affect the film in any substantial fashion.

As the cinematographer, Torres never gives the characters room to breathe. He exercises trembling handheld camerawork and misty grey hues, thus kindling an all-consuming ambiguity. The grainy visual aesthetic works wonders for the tenebrous atmosphere and tone. Hence why the prolonged scenes of people walking through grimy corridors and streets aren’t pointlessly meandering. It helps that the subtle glimpses of existential dread as seen through the eyes of Eric are performed by an emotionally nuanced Briones.

In short, Torres underlines the danger and uncertainty of the journalism profession, especially in Mexico. Unfortunately, despite sticking the landing, the filmmaker doesn’t do enough to utilize the urban legend, at least in a more cohesive way. Nonetheless, El Hombre Búfalo is a purposefully vague and murky fantastical drama with real consequences regarding the risk of journalism and the need to preserve it.

El Hombre Búfalo (2021)

Directed and Written: David Torres

Starring: Raúl Briones, Sofia Alvarez, Antonio Monroi, José Luis Pérez, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

El Hombre Búfalo Image

"…the grainy visual aesthetic works wonders for the tenebrous atmosphere..."

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