Juan De Los Muertos (2011)

Film Reviews — By on April 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

AKA Juan Of The Dead.

Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) is a Cuban with a bit of a charmed life. Okay, so he may not have a stable family life, immense riches or respect from others. He has his good friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) and plenty of alcohol. Oh, and he seems to have a fairly active love life. When Cuba finds itself in the middle of an epidemic of “dissident activity” (that’s zombie-itis to you and I) it actually turns out to be advantageous to Juan and company. “Juan Of The Dead” will take care of your loved ones for you and get the undead to become dead again.

Writer/director Alejandro Brugues has somehow managed to create the best Cuban zombie comedy that I’ve ever seen. Well, to be honest, he’s managed to create the only Cuban zombie comedy that I’ve ever seen but it also happens to be a very enjoyable film. Perhaps a little too indebted to Shaun Of The Dead in places ( 1 – the lead character, who doesn’t really seem to have found his ideal place in life, and his slightly useless mate, 2 – the iconography of the posed group with their various weapons, 3 – the way in which the new way of the world isn’t entirely different from the old way of the world and 4 – the . . . . . . . . title), I still happily recommend this to people who enjoy a good comedy with zombies in the mix.

Sadly, and I know that this will disappoint many, the zombies never feel like that much of a threat. In fact, perhaps that’s part of the point that the film is making considering all that has happened to Cuba and its citizens over the year. It certainly weakens the movie, however, and it’s a shame that there couldn’t have been more of an effort made to bring the horror elements up to almost the same level as the comedy.

Alexis Diaz de Villegas is very good in the lead role, Jorge Molina is lots of fun as Lazaro and Blanca Rosa Blanco, Elsa Camp, Andrea Duro, Luis Alberto Garcia and everyone else does a great job. It’s fair to say that although the script and style of the movie is just fine it’s the cast that makes this such a pleasure to watch. Everyone does a great job, getting the most laughs possible out of their specific characteristics, and let’s not dismiss the character played by Cuba itself. It may be the setting for the film but it also infuses every frame with sunshine, a relaxed manner and a hint of danger. Parts of the film could be transported to other locations and made again but the complete movie is intertwined with the landscape (both environmental and social) of Cuba.

All in all, Juan De Los Muertos isn’t a great film but it does strive to be a very good one. And it succeeds. Worth seeing, even if you don’t end up loving it.

WRITER/DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO BRUGUES
STARS: ALEXIS DIAZ DE VILLEGAS, JORGE MOLINA, BLANCA ROSA BLANCO, ELSA CAMP,  ANDREA DURO, LUIS ALBERTO GARCIA,  ANDROS PERUGORRIA, SUSANA POUS, ELIECER RAMIREZ, JAZZ VILA
RUNTIME: 100 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: SPAIN/CUBA

Film Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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