A Cuban zombie film, you can almost smell the subtext. Juan of the Dead is directed by Alejandro Brugues, and as you may expect this film takes a satirical approach to the genre, in much the same vain as Shaun of the Dead. Where Shaun of the Dead was quintessentially English, Juan of the Dead reflects its Cuban heritage exceptionally well.
Juan of the Dead follows Juan, a petty criminal, and his entourage of fellow criminals as they try to find a way through a zombie outbreak in Havana. This film never feels like a horror, a reflection of the Cuban-ness, the characters walk through the zombie outbreak barely reacting to anything around them. It is a charming comedy with some exceptional character driven moments between Juan and his best friend Lazaro, a dimwitted but loyal character. Juan and his friends decide to start a business charging people to kill there loved ones, such a entrepreneurial reaction to such horrors is even referenced in the film as being Cuban. A nation that has seen such horrors at length throughout its lifetime. The depiction of a Cuban government who are adamant that the zombies are in fact US sponsored dissidents is poignant quip at a country still living under Castro’s rule. The news reports that everything is fine and that people can return to normal is hilarious juxtaposed with a city that is in complete ruins and the streets are filled with ‘dissidents’.
In the Juan of the Dead is a great entry to the increasingly popular zom-com genre. Its satirical view of a socialist Cuba, but at the same time criticises capitalism. The characters are great, and the general reflection of Havana in the midst of a major crisis is the films finest achievement.