Release date: October 10, 2019 (Perú)
Directed by: Daniel Martín Rodríguez
Screenplay by: Pablo Carrillo, Gonzalo Rodríguez Risco, Bruno Rosina.
Cast: Emilram Cossio, Anahí de Cárdenas, César Ritter, Miguel Iza, Liliana Trujillo, Javier Valdez, Norma Martínez, José Peláez, Mario Velásquez, Pold Gastello, Natalia Salas, Daniela Baertl, Lizet Chávez, Pietro Sibille, Alfonso Dibós, Denise Arregui, Alicia Mercado, Jorge Bardales, Carlos Victoria, Sebastian Rubio, Jely Reátegui, Dante del Águila, Luigi Monteghirfo, Víctor Prada, Pedro Pablo Corpancho, Fabian Tapia, Michelle Meyer-Kayser, Mariano Sábato, Julián Legaspi, Mox.
A bailar, celebrar, y chupar
porque el mundo se va a acabar.
Although they have known each other for a lifetime, Claudia (de Cardenas) and Felipe (Cossío) never managed to have a close relationship because they come from different social classes. But these don’t matter now that the zombie apocalypse is upon them. While running away, they meet a security guard (Ritter) and a drunkard (Iza), and the four of them will do their best to escape the city and perhaps find refuge in the beach houses to the south.
Aj! Zombies is a kind of double novelty for Peruvian cinema, not only is a horror comedy (a genre seldom seen in the country’s film industry), but it also started as a web series back in 2014. The project was then picked by France’s Canal+ for an exclusive 10 part series with a better budget, for their app Studio+. The series was never seen in Peru and thus, after buying back the theatrical rights, they decided to edit the series in a feature length movie.
The film’s origin as a series is shown in its episodic storytelling, which can be disjointed for moments. This includes a few unnecessary scenes that are mostly there because comedy. And some of them are so over-the-top that you are never actually worried for the safety of the main characters, and so the horror is mostly in the context.
That said, while the story is both straightforward and absurd, it is the actors that move this movie forward. Cossio and de Cardenas are charming as the leads, and they are the ones with the most backstory. Ritter’s security guard is a total cliché, but it works, and his continuous misremembering of Felipe’s name is hilarious.
But Iza as the drunkard is the MVP, even if part of me still misses late actor Ricky Tosso who played the part in the original web series. Still, Iza remains in character through it all, and has good comedic timing.
The zombies themselves where the slow stumbling Romero kind. But they were also sort of conscious, or at least understand social cues and sort of communicated with each other, all for comedic purposes.
Talking about the father of zombie movies, Aj! Zombies names an in-universe mini-market chain in his honor. The movie also name-drops popular series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, and has a ridiculous amount of marshmallows in honor of Ghostbusters, according to director Daniel Martín Rodríguez.
One of the highlights of the movies as far as references go, is where all the main characters recall something that happened moments before, and of course each tell a different version. Those retellings were filmed and edited in different movie styles: one clearly inspired by Tarantino, another like a Bollywood action movie, another like a 70s war movie, and the last one as a musical sequence.
In the end, Aj! Zombies has its fair share of stumbles, but its quick pacing and charming performances made the film achieve its main task: make people laugh.