Here’s an exciting bit of news for horror fans: The first-ever horror feature film from Panama is coming to the U.S.

Diablo Rojo Pty, the directorial feature debut of Sol Moreno, has been playing theaters in its native Panama but also getting some shine on the festival circuit. Featured in Canada’s Hexploitation Film Festival and the Panamanian International Film Festival in Los Angeles, Diablo has finally been picked up for North America by new genre distributor, The Horror Collective. THC was founded late last year by Shaked Berenson, the former co-founder of Epic Pictures, and former Dread Central EIC Jonathan Barkan (who you may know as the writer of our monthly horror movie releases column).

The concept of Diablo Rojo Pty sounds incredibly cool, too. Based on local Panamanian folklore, it’s described as “a ride through Hell, with witches, cannibals and monsters.” The way Barkan describes it, it sounds like it’s a blast: “This movie is a total throwback to the ’80s horror films I grew up watching,” he said. “It’s full of practical FX, has a great score and is wicked amounts of fun! I can’t wait for North American audiences to see this one.” I’m always a sucker for anything folklore-based, so sign me up. And while I definitely appreciate cerebral, slow-burn horror, sometimes it’s just nice to sink your teeth – er, eyeballs – into simply a good horror time.

I’m especially interested in this one as it’s the first feature horror film to come out of Panama. Different regions of the world have put their stamp on the horror genre by injecting it with elements lifted directly from their distinct cultures and mythology. Thanks to Japan, we all understand the character of the creepy, lank-haired ghost with dead white skin and black hair. Korea has perfected the idea of violent thrillers with characters hellbent on revenge. Some of the most innovative and memorable horror movies of the decade have been foreign projects, like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from Iran, The Babadook from Australia, Train to Busan from South Korean or the [REC] series out of Spain. Could Panama, specifically, or Central America, in general, produce the next great wave of horror filmmakers? If Diablo Rojo Pty finds success here in the U.S., that very well might be the case.

Diablo Rojo Pty, due to the pandemic, will be hitting Amazon Prime in May. We can only hope it clears a path for more Panamanian horror films making their way to America’s shores.

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