Tyro writer-director Emilio Portes liberally borrows from Mexican helmer Luis Estrada’s approach to rollicking black comedy in “Meet the Head of Juan Perez,” but along its baroque storytelling course, pic simply exhausts its welcome. Funny high concept has an economically besieged small-time circus manager/escape artist forced to steal a 16th-century guillotine from a museum for an act he hopes will boost ticket sales. Good role for funny guy Silveria Palacios is negated by excessive v.o. narration — fine for hungry local consumption, but a downer for international sales.
Juan (Palacios) is already dead at pic’s start, and in 10 chapters, he explains how he got to this unfortunate state. Portes enjoyably sets out an array of wacky character types at the circus, whose layoffs trigger several personal feuds, especially Jose Sefami’s vengeful clown, Gorgo. Plotting becomes insanely complex, but the upshot is that Juan’s prized guillotine is cursed (accompanied by second-rate visual effects), and even his Houdini-like talents aren’t enough. Metaphor for the little guy in Mexican society is blunt enough.