Home playdates website trailer archives

Ambitious Miami TV reporter Manolo Bonilla (John Leguizamo) travels to a small Ecuadorian village to cover a series of brutal murders. There he stumbles on the biggest story of his career, tracking a serial killer nicknamed the "Monster of Babahoyo." But how far will Manolo go to get the story? Part suspense thriller and part examination of journalistic ethics, writer/director Sebastián Cordero gripping crime drama explores the willingness of the media to surrender its morals for a shot at fame and profit. Co-starring Alfred Molina, Damián Alcázar, Gloria Leyton, José María Yazpik and Leonor Watling.


The idea of making a film about a serial killer occurred to me a year and a half ago, when I read a story in a sensationalistic newspaper: one of the most brutal child rapists and murderers the world has ever seen had been arrested in Colombia. The story barely mentioned the rapist’s wife, but a few days later, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Did she know about the double life her husband led? What side of her husband did she know? Did he have a good side? Maybe in her eyes he was an exemplary husband and a great father to her children. What did she think about him now?

Little by little it struck me how stereotyped the icon of the serial killer has become, how much of its humanity it has lost when portrayed in film (if it ever had any to begin with). In order for a character to be real, disturbing, scary, we must identify with him. One of the main themes in my previous film (Ratas, Ratones, Rateros) came from the duality and inherent goodness that even the most cold-blooded person has. Even a ruthless killer may feel love at some point, in the same way that a good and cherished family man can be plagued with dark thoughts. I couldn’t think of a worse action than torturing and killing a child, and it became a challenge for me to write a character who was capable of murder at one moment, while having a beautiful family with whom he shares the best intentions. I wanted the most lyrical moments in the film to come from this monster, without suggesting that his brutal actions were in any way justified.

Gradually, the character of a journalist who wants to understand this double life started to emerge as well. Very arrogantly, he thinks he can expose an extremely fragile situation, without being aware of how his own dark side will affect the story he’s documenting. There is perhaps a part of me in him. We definitely share a fascination for morbid stories in which humanity comes through. It’s essential for me that the journalist never passes a moral judgment on the killer. For how can you look at the dirt in someone else’s eye when you have a beam in your own?

A town that is losing its children soon became a character in this story as well. Losing a child is the worst tragedy a person can go through. It means going against the nature of life itself and losing your future. And yet, parents who have gone through this somehow manage to survive. This film deals in many ways with the theme of going against your nature. Driving through the town of Babahoyo, I realized that it was the perfect setting for this story. Babahoyo is a city that for centuries has been flooded six to ten feet during five months each year, and yet people’s persistence has been stronger than nature so far. Houses are built on stilts and narrow bridges made of bamboo connect them to the main road. It is a town where children learn to swim before they learn to walk. The houses don’t have running water, but they have television. It is incredibly beautiful and rich, but it is also a living hell. It is a place like no other, and it has to be captured on film.