The immigrant experience takes a dark and violent turn in Blood of My Blood. A cunning criminal named Juan (Armando Hernandez) hitches a ride on a truck carrying human cargo – that’s illegal immigrants to you and me.

While making an escape from one of his many crimes, this drifter befriends a small-town guy named Pedro (Jorge Adrian Espindola). Pedro is off to New York to track down his father in hopes of developing a relationship with him after his mother’s death.

Juan is soon made aware of a letter that Pedro holds that will explain his circumstances to the father he doesn’t know. Forever the opportunist, Juan gets on his new friend’s good side, only to steal his belongings – making off with the letter and Pedro’s identity. Pedro spends the rest of the film trying to find his dad (played by Jesus Ochoa), and learning how to survive with the help of a homeless junkie named Magda (Paola Mendoza).

The film succeeds in channeling the immigrant experience into moviegoers’ psyches. The streets of New York can be a mean place, and director Christopher Zalla isn’t at all interested in sugarcoating it.

Mendoza is fantastic as Magda – she’s sexy, edgy, angry and still vulnerable. Save for the film’s anti-climactic obscure indie film ending, this movie is a thrilling straight-shot from beginning to end.

Grade: B-

Sangre de Mi Sangre (Blood of My Blood) releases in select theaters May 23.