From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Review

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a 2014 supernatural horror television series developed by Robert Rodriguez, starring D. J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Jesse Garcia, Eiza Gonzalez, Madison Davenport, and Brandon Soo Hoo. Based on the From Dusk Till Dawn series by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Kurtzman, the series follows a Texas Ranger is in hot pursuit of the infamous Gecko brothers and their hostages. They all end up trapped in a desert bar secretly run by vampires and discover a vampire conspiracy.


Positives:

  • Great performances by a great cast
  • Great characters
  • Great soundtrack
  • Great, intense action
  • Good use of practical and CGI
  • The show is well written
  • Action is well choreographed
  • Great expanded storyline
  • Great use of gore and makeup

Negatives:

  • Some character designs could be better

Plot:  The story follows bank robbers the Gecko Robbers, Seth and Richie.  The two are being pursued by Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez after an encounter with the two leaves his mentor dead.  Heading for the Mexican border, the Geckos encounter former minister Jacob Fuller and his family, whom they take hostage.  The group stop at a strip club called the “Titty Twister” to meet their contact before heading into Mexico.  However, their world is thrown upside down when they discover that the employees and strippers are vampires.  The story takes the plot of the first movie and add so much exposition on the world and the characters.  It’s really entertaining filled with a lot of great and interesting twist.  The vampires have an interesting origin story and how they incorporate themselves into society is told in a pretty believable way.  There is a lot of great character development throughout the progression of the series as there are a lot of moments characters learn more about themselves, overcome their inner demons, and challenge their beliefs.  (4 out of 5)

Characters: There are a lot of great characters to like, even characters who are plain despicable, but still have interesting points about them.  The main characters are Seth (Cotrona) and Richie Gecko (Holtz); outlaws, bank robbers and completely badass. Seth and Richie are rough around the edges but they’re actually pretty likable when they’re not total douchebags.  Despite their arguing and disagreements, they have a really healthy relationship.  Richie is straight up psychotic but his character develops after he gets over his…”issues”. I like how despite their demeanor they have a conscious which actually shows with their relationship with the Fullers (which isn’t there initially). The Fullers consist of Kate (Davenport), Scott (Soo Hoo) and Jacob (Patrick).  The family is going through their issues with the siblings having this strained relationship with their father over the death of their mother.  All three characters are annoying at times but Kate and Scott do come into their own over the course of the series. Especially Scott, who has become a favorite.

Another awesome character, of course, is Santanico Pandemonium (Gonzalez).  She’s smart, she’s seductive, she’s strong: she has a messed up backstory.  Born 500 years before the series, she’s turned into a vampire and trapped inside the temple.  She develops this romantic relationship with Richie (while also being partially responsible for his mental instability) and I really liked it.  Unfortunately, they do break up and it sucks because it was great seeing how he would deal without having Seth with him.  Wished she would’ve had more screentime in the third season. There is also Carlos (Valderrama), who is just awesome.  He’s a badass in the first and second seasons, but kind of fall off in the third season.  He and Santanico use to be lovers and it’s interesting seeing this dynamic between the characters as well as with Richie, making for an odd love triangle.  I really like Gonzalez (Garcia) as a new, original character.  He’s hunting the Gecko brothers for murdering his mentor but the develops this tense relationship with them.  There are a host of other interesting characters but I think the one character that was a bit of a let down was Amaru.  Wished, she would’ve been more badass.  Her presence represents the end of the world but it never really feels like it. Still, there are a lot of great characters. (4 out of 5)

Cast:  The series has a fantastic cast who give great performances.  The main cast includes D. J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Jesse Garcia, Eiza Gonzalez, Madison Davenport, Brandon Soo Hoo, Wilmer Valderrama, Esai Morales, Robert Patrick, and Jake Bussey.  I do not care what anyone says the performances by the main cast far surpass that of their movie counterparts.  George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino did great jobs as the Gecko Brothers, but Cotrona and Holtz give the roles much more depth.  Both have great chemistry together.  Eiza Gonzalez is fantastic as Santanico.  I love Salma Hayek as Santanico but like Cotrona and Holtz, Gonzalez is defines the character.  The supporting cast includes Danny Trejo, Don Johnson, Jamie Tisdale, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Brandon Smith, Samantha Esteban, Briana Evigan, Patrick Davis, Alicia Sanz, Demi Lovato, Jeff Fahey, Emily Rios, Ana de la Reguera, Mauraice Compte, Marko Zaror, Tom Savini, Natalie Martinez, Adrianne Palicki, and Nicky Whelan. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: The special effects are pretty but admittedly, there are some obvious CGI moments particularly with some of the transformations.  The vampires have a reptilian look that makes them look unique. Really liked the makeup effects. Good use of the gore, which is done really well.  There are moments where people are just getting wiped out and body parts are flying and blood is everywhere and it looks good for that sequence.  Though some of the demon designs could’ve been better, cough cough… Skull Keeper.  There is some very intense action sequences that are shot rather well, and the well choreographed fights are pretty engaging. (4 out of 5)

Score: The soundtrack…is simply awesome.  Carl Thiel composes a great soundtrack.  There is a great focus on Western and Mexican themes that help emphasize the Mesoamerican mythology.  The series’ intro theme song, “After Dark”, performed by Chingon is a great tone setter for every episode.  (4 out of 5)

Writing:  The writing is actually pretty good and does a good job of supporting the story.  Hearing about this series first gave me pause as I thought the movies were okay but nothing great.  So, a series couldn’t be better right? This series does what the movies do better and then some. The characters are extremely well written and show a great deal of depth with the evolving situations that they find themselves in.  Even the most hateful characters have attributes that are appealing. The characters feel important and the focus on them works well for fleshing them out.  The mythology behind the vampires is actually really interesting and does feel sound.  Sure, the show has a dark theme, but it does a great job of balancing out the supernatural, horror, and action elements.  There is a lot of drama, but it helps to flesh out the characters making a lot of the stakes feel really personal.  And that always keeps the characters interesting. I really appreciate the dialogue.  It can be fun, witty, and sarcastic.

The first and second season focus on the vampires and the internal conflict within the social structure and the third season brings in new antagonists in the form of demons.  The demons are interesting but there is a serious lack of exposition that could’ve made them more memorable.  Also, the lack of exposition does seem intrusive as it doesn’t necessarily add to the lore but feels more like a cop out.  Here, we have this awesome vampire history and culture but when the demons show up there isn’t much revealed about them outside of them being from hell and originally being the vampires’ masters.  Amaru is probably one of the biggest let downs because of how poorly the character was written.  Yes, she was cool. Yes, she was sexy.  But the lack of the exposition does make her a bit cliche compared to many of the other antagonists.  Lastly, the series could’ve benefited from adapting more of the films to the series, perhaps introduce other characters from the films in the series to kind of run parallel to the movies and how they could’ve been incorporated.  (4 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is one of those well welcome expansions of a decent movie series.  Really the only thing worth mentioning as a problem could be some of the character designs and the CGI.  But the series excels at everything else.  The characters are awesome, great cast and performances, good special effects, great soundtrack, compelling story, and great action.  From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series gets 4 out of 5.

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