BLAST BEAT – A Review by Cynthia Flores

BLAST BEAT – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This film was a Sundance official selection and is a different take on the immigrant story. Last year’s Korean family story in the award-winning movie Minary was a quiet contemplation on the struggle for the American dream. The new feature film debut Blast Beat from director and co-writer Esteban Arango uses the frequently bone-rattling music of death metal to tell this loud and messy story of migrating to America in the summer of 1999. 

In the film, the whole Andres family will be back together on the cusp of the year 2000. As head of the family, Ernesto (Wilmer Valderrama) has been in the states for the past six months getting a house and getting things ready legally for the rest of the family to join him. As the film opens, his wife Nelly (Diane Guerrero) and two teenage boys Carly (Mateo Arias) and Mateo (Moises Arias), prepare to move from their home in Colombia to the US. 

This will be a significant change because their mother does not speak English, and the boys have to be the new kids at the local high school. The film touches on what the family as a whole is dealing with, but honestly, this movie is about the brothers. We see moments of the parents seizing the chance to escape the political turmoil in Colombia as they chase the American Dream. However, their story is just a backdrop to the struggle between the siblings. Carly is the metalhead genius older brother who has his heart set on attending the Georgia Aerospace Institute and working for NASA. He is driven by his passion for science and the fantastic way his mind works. Then there is little brother Mateo. He is the only one going to the US, kicking and screaming. He’s a rebel without a cause and resents the brilliance of his older brother. 

Once in America, the family struggles to adapt. Through bad luck and bad choices on Mateos’ part, their plans for the future are shattered. Will Carly ever make his dream of working for NASA a reality? You’ll have to watch Blast Beat to find out.

This film has “Good Bones,” just like the older house the family moves into. The writing is strong, the direction and cinematography are good, and the relationship between the boys is spot on. Casting real-life acting brothers in the role didn’t hurt. They brought a shorthand that only exists between people that have grown up together to the project. The actors played the same parts in the 2015 short of the same name that the film is based on. So they have the characters down pat. What put me off was the heavy use of metal songs. Music can either push a story along, or it can be a distraction. For me, the thrashing music set at 10+ volume only worked about 70% of the time. This caused me to go from loving this cool take on immigrating to the US to just liking it a lot.

I give Blast Beat a 3.5-star rating. It’s definitely worth seeing, but if Metal is not your thing, just turn the volume down a bit.


Directed by: Esteban Arango

Written by: Erick Castrillonm Esteban Arango

Rated: NR

Selig Rating: 3.5 Stars

Running Time: 105min


Release: Limited theatrical and VOD May 21st

Starring: Daniel Dae Kim, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Mateo Arias, Moises Arias


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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