Netflix’s fantasy adventure film “Chupa” is a good attempt at giving a soft, endearing spin to the legend of Chupacabra, a mythical beast that quite literally sucks the blood out of goats in Puerto Rico and regions of Latin America. However, as the plot progresses with a young boy named Alex connecting with his paternal family in Mexico, the most glaring problem of the film becomes apparent—it presents Mexico and its culture in the most superficial manner. Representation aside, too, “Chupa” lacks any interesting depth with regard to plot and motivation and is only good for a single watch.
‘Chupa’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film begins in 1996, deep inside an ancient cave in San Javier, Mexico, when a group of researchers are in search of what they believe to be a rare animal species. Three men, headed by the leader of the research unit, Quinn, soon spot a small creature running past and are sure to have found their target. The animal they are in search of happens to be the mythical chupacabra, an apparently demonic beast that kills domestic animals by sucking on their blood. However, the appearance that is given to the creatures here is quite different from the usual portrayals of them, for chupacabras in “Chupa” are essentially felines with wings that have unique, blue-tipped feathers. As Quinn and his men try to get hold of a baby chupacabra, an adult creature comes in to protect it, and an intense chase follows. Although the adult chupacabra, most likely the mother, succeeds in keeping its offspring safe from humans, the baby runs onto an open road nearby and is hit by a speeding car.
The news of a suspected new animal, one that preys on the blood of goats and other domestic animals, spreads all over the continent and the world, with the local name “El Chupacabra” being used. The focus now shifts to a middle school in Kansas City, USA, where a young teenager, Alex, is struggling to fit in. Alex hails from a Mexican family and is evidently treated like the odd one out among his white schoolmates. The bullies make fun of the food that Alex brings for lunch, among many other things, and the boy, too, is fed up with his Mexican roots. But within a few days, Alex has to take a trip down to San Javier during spring break, the town that is the native place of his late father. Although Alex is not very interested in this vacation that he is to spend with his grandfather, the boy has no idea of the fantastical adventure that awaits him there.
How Does Alex Find A Connection With His New Pet?
Since his mother is unable to accompany Alex to Mexico due to her job in the US, the boy boards a flight to San Javier by himself. Upon reaching the village, Alex is greeted by Chava, his “abuelo,” or grandfather, a man he is not very well acquainted with. It is clear that Alex had been to Mexico only as a child and has no memory of the place or the family members he has here. The fact that Chava was a famous luchador, i.e., a professional wrestler, during his younger days is something that Alex was never aware of. Chava used to fight under the name Relampago Azul and had made a fierce enemy in another wrestler named El Chakal. The boy is not too interested after hearing all this, in sharp contrast to his younger cousin, Memo, who is also spending his vacation at their house in San Javier. Memo is absolutely fascinated with lucha libre, and his favorite pastime is to wear his grandfather’s wrestling outfit and mask and impersonate him. Alex also meets with an elder cousin, Luna, at the house, and the three cousins gradually start to bond together. This is not very easy for Alex since he knows very little Spanish, while Memo does not understand or speak English. Luna is initially the communicator between the two since she is well-versed in her mother tongue, owing to the fact that she lives in Mexico City and also in English, which she has picked up from songs and films. When Chava hears that Alex knows very little of his native language, he is persistent in insisting that the boy pick it up. Alex is not interested in this either, as he finds his grandfather a bit forceful too, and he spends the days playing his Game Boy and waiting for the vacation to end.
However, within a few days, the young protagonist spots something odd going on with his grandfather, as one night, he sees Chava going to the barn and playing a small music box as if waiting for something to arrive. Alex even believes seeing a small furry animal lurking in the bushes, but when he calls for help, nothing other than an ordinary rabbit can be found. It is Memo who first makes the connection, saying that it must be El Chupacabra, as the boy had been hearing about it on the news in recent times. Although Chava tries to convince his three grandchildren that there is no real existence of the beast being shown on TV, his actual stance on the matter turns out to be quite different. Over the next few days, the children find Chava doing some unexplainable things, like wandering off on his own and buying new goats for his farm. While a lot of this is because the man is actually losing his memory due to the onset of some mental disorder, it is also partly linked to the legendary animal as well.
It was actually Chava who was driving the car on the open road, as seen in the opening minutes of “Chupa.” Therefore, it was he who had hit the baby chupacabra with his car, but the man had not left the creature on the road. Seeing that it was hurt, Chava carried the chupacabra back to his house, and he had been hiding the creature in his barn for all this time. When Alex had earlier seen him going to the barn at night, Chava had actually gone there to feed the beast and probably tend to it. Since chupacabras are believed to feed on goat milk, the creature must have killed some of the goats on Chava’s farm, making him have to buy some more animals to replace them. The reason why he keeps the existence of the creature a secret, even from his own grandchildren, is because Chava rightly guesses that some people must be hunting for it, which has made the secretive creature run out of its usual hiding spots.
Although the grandfather makes all attempts to keep the baby creature hidden, the chupacabra itself makes its presence known to young Alex. Ever since that first night when the two stumbled upon each other, the creature seemed to find a new friend in Alex and crawled up to the boy’s room in the attic. While Alex does take some time to be friendly with the creature, which is just like a pet cat or dog, his cousins also gradually learn about its existence. Together with his cousins and also his grandfather, Alex names the creature Chupa and decides to protect it from any harm. The similarity between the situations of Alex and Chupa is what forms the base of the film, as both the young ones have to spend time away from their familiar surroundings. Although Alex is not really lost and separated from his mother as Chupa is, the boy does feel a huge disconnect from his native culture and heritage. Both of them gradually find new homes and families at the farmhouse in San Javier, as Chupa is protected from dangers by the family, and Alex grows close to his abuelo and primos in this process. However, it is this very process of Alex fitting into his native culture that could have been done better in “Chupa,” as certain aspects of it seem sudden and unconvincing. Nonetheless, the grief that Alex was living with due to the sudden death of his father because of cancer is also relieved and eased by his grandfather. Alex had the habit of always trying to suppress his sad feelings by not talking about them and instead playing on his Game Boy. Chava notices this and then helps the boy grieve, making it easier for him to accept the passing of his father.
The matter of Chava losing his memory is also something that could have been given some more depth, but instead, it only serves as background information and a tool to create suspense when the man cannot remember the exact spot where he hit Chupa on the road. Perhaps the only interesting or remarkable element in Chava’s memory loss is the fact that, although the man often messes up timelines, believing Alex to be his son Beto, his memory is still strongly tied to the outfit he would wear during his wrestling days. It is in the identity of Relampago Azul that he helps Alex and Chupa in the present by fighting Quinn, whom he is made to believe is El Chakal. By now, Quinn and his men had tracked down Chava since the latter’s license plate had been found on the road where he had crashed into the chupacabra. Quinn is shown to be working for the government of the USA, looking for rare or legendary animals for medicinal purposes. Since his promoters had been told of the chupacabras’ magical healing powers, they had paid Quinn to look for the animal and create medicines out of it. But as the days go by, the promoters and donators grow impatient, and Quinn is forced to intensify his search for the baby chupacabra he had chased a few nights earlier.
‘Chupa’ Ending Explained: What Finally Happens To Alex And Chupa?
As Quinn and his men try to take Chupa away, Alex, Memo, and Luna somehow manage to rescue it with the help of their grandfather, now dressed completely in his luchador outfit. They drive the young chupacabra down to the desert road where Chava first ran across it in an attempt to find Chupa’s family and return it to them. Alex is able to take Chupa to a spot from where its howls are answered back by adult chupacabras, making it clear that they are nearby. However, trouble brews when Alex has to protect himself from a puma and, in the process, finds himself hanging dangerously from an old water pipe that is falling apart. It is now Chupa who returns to help out its newest friend, and finally, using its wings for the first time, it ensures Alex’s safety. Although Memo, Luna, and Chava have now arrived on the scene too, Quinn also finds the spot and manages to hit Chupa with a tranquilizer dart. The man then cages up the infant creature and attempts to drive away in his car, but three adult chupacabras now emerge and stop Quinn in his tracks. In a final attempt, the man tries to threaten the creatures with his taser stick, but it is now Chava who helps the family out. Chava strikes Quinn down with his legendary suplex, a wrestling move that Chava used to use in his prime, and Chupa is now finally reunited with his family.
Alex returns to his grandfather’s house, and the day of his return to Kansas City arrives soon. It is now truly family that Alex has to leave behind, and Luna gives him a Walkman to listen to a song collection that she has arranged for him. Having one last friendly wrestling bout with Memo, Alex is driven to the airport by Chava, who has decided to leave his house in San Javier and instead settle with his daughter (Luna and Memo’s mother) in Mexico City, owing to his dangerous forgetfulness. Alex now gives his Game Boy to Chava, saying that he does not need it anymore, signifying that he is over the grief of having lost his father. With the newfound relations that he had just made in Mexico, Alex is now very proud of his cultural roots. Aboard the flight, the boy takes a look at a luchador mask that Chava has given him, as this mask used to belong to Alex’s father, Beto, during his younger days. Beto had also been a luchador before settling with Alex’s mother in the United States, and the mask is one more way of remembering the man for Alex. In the final scene, the boy is excited to see Chupa and his family fly by the side of the airplane, perhaps reminding him that he has this family in Mexico as well.