The formula of mixing zombies with any other stereotype of audiovisual fiction continues to bear fruit. Now it’s the turn of the Mexican narcos
Sergio Peris-Mencheta, the crashed Captain Thunder on the big screen, has a crescendo of international trajectory that has recently resulted in several relentless villain roles. In the last installment of the saga that elevated Sylvester Stallone as an action hero, ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, he played a grumpy man linked to a trafficking network who faced a twilight John Rambo with Óscar Jaenada, a companion of criminal fatigue in fiction, with whom he also shares sequences in ‘Xtremo’, both acting as histrionic malefactors of the role. Unscrupulous thugs serving an unusual action proposition in our cinematography, with good thumping scenes, a recent phenomenon on Netflix, where it premiered directly. In ‘SOZ (Soldiers or zombies)’ the Spanish actor, also praised playwright – his theatrical chronicle ‘Lehman Trilogy’ is tremendous – and an excellent role player, plays a drug lord who escapes from prison emulating the famous escape of El Chapo, with an underground tunnel. In his clean-shot escape, on the same day of his birthday, he runs into an army of zombies in uniform.
‘SOZ’, not to be confused with the Turkish war soap opera, mixes zombies and narcos, in a clever maneuver in pursuit of entertainment. The fashion for the undead in the entertainment business seems to have no end. Uniting the walking brain-eating corpses with whatever comes to mind generates succulent B and Z series audiovisual mixes, sometimes with pasta but sharing the same spirit. Amazon Prime Video has opted for this delusional fusion, divided into eight installments, of just 25 minutes each, shot in Mexico. Easily digestible, the recent bet of the video-on-demand platform of the gigantic online sales company has been on topics without embarrassment since its inception. Experiments in a military laboratory lead to imaginable carnage. The starting point is a zombie suckling pig that bites a patrol near the US border. Peris-Mencheta, whose imposing physique suits his role, puts a Mexican accent on his character, whose nightmare begins as he leaves the correctional institution through the back door. The popular drug trafficker Alonso Marroquín escapes from prison, but the authorities are on his heels while his mafia enemies, read the competition, want his head on a silver platter, which gives rise to betrayal. To spice up the mess, the undead enter the scene twisting the avalanche of adversity.
‘SOZ’ does not pretend to invent anything, it is sincere in this sense, and given its format and timing it is easy to see. Its biggest problem is that it takes time to start, and it does not have plenty of action scenes, but as is often commented among lovers of the terrifying fantasy genre, nothing that has zombies can be boring. There are zombies for everything. ‘Corona Zombies’, the first film to exploit the pandemic, has already seen the light in full confinement, with little shame and little means. The cult producer Full Moon was behind this nonsense of barely an hour that sought the complicity of the viewer, not always finding it. The undead have stuck with vampires and werewolves, even Bigfoot. There is a zombie shark, carnivorous beavers with blank eyes, Nazis returning from the grave in a thirst for blood, atomic zombies, space zombies, ninja and rockers. There is ‘Dead sushi’, where the Japanese delicacy comes to life and murders unceremoniously by biting its prey, and any item we imagine can return from the grave to eat the living. No genre resists the power of the risen, not comedy, not musical, not western, even drama. Therefore, for a group of drug traffickers to confront a sort of revived code of special forces is a natural step in the evolution of an apparently unstoppable trend.
A frame from the series.
Makeup and visual effects work well in ‘SOZ’, a creative project, curiously enough, by a documentary maker, the Argentine filmmaker Nicolas Entel, responsible for ‘Yasumi’ and ‘Pecados de mi padre’, the latter centered on Pablo Escobar’s son , Sebastián Marroquín, whose surname is taken by the character defended by Peris-Mencheta. Fátima Molina (‘Who Killed Sara?’), Horacio García Rojas (‘Narcos: Mexico’), Adria Morales (‘The Queen I’m Me’), Toby Schmitz (‘Black Sails’), Steve Wilcox (‘ Swamp Thing ‘), James Moses Black (‘ This Is Us ‘), Jorge Jiménez (‘ Narcos: Mexico) and Vico Ortiz (‘Everything is going to go well’) are part of the main casting. The setting is Mexico, specifically Durando, which gives rise to the portrait of corruption and social parable, common in the zombie subgenre, although here the Americans are not exemplary citizens. A multicultural product with a commercial flair that has songs on its soundtrack by Molotov, Control Machete, T. Rex feat. Ringo Starr, Elton John or Nine Inch Nails, among others.
The first season is available on Amazon Prime Video.