Iñaki Godoy’s career is about to get a major uptick in the coming months with the pending live-action Netflix series premiere, “One Piece.” Until then, film festival heads are humbly invited to check out the burgeoning star in one of his recent feature screen roles as he battles growing pains, young love, and the undead in director Chava Cartas’s latest, Mexzombies.
Set in Mexico, it’s not long before things take a deadly twist involving a dodgy chemist, shady cartel hitmen, and two stragglers caught in the crossfire as guinea pigs for an unsolicited street drug for which they have no clue of its results. This all takes place in the hours before the day of Halloween when we meet Tavo (Iñaki Godoy), a kid from the lower middle-class streets just outside of a nearby affluent gated community which he frequents by hopping over its wall, whether to spy on the love of his life, Ana (Roberta Damian) or to hang with his cinephilic best friend, who for all intents and purposes, prefers to be called “Kronos” (Marcelo Barceló).
Upon catching up with a neighbor left to deal with a loved one’s corpse, little do Tavo and “Chronos” know that they’re about to be attacked by a zombie. With the rest of the neighborhood and parents clueless and completely unaware of the chaos that’s about to throw their peaceful community on the brink, it’s up to the two boys to warn their friends, galvanize and gather their best resources to put an end to the undead madness, even if it means teaming up with local crime boss Jefe Vargas (Bárbara de Regil), or confronting their own worst fears.
I’m compelled to start by saying that one of the film’s strongest characteristics is its focus on the class divide between everyone on both sides of the upscale community fence, which often sets the stage for some edgy, esoteric humor that pokes at certain tropes and archetypes. It’s nothing that’s too ensnaring or controversial, but it does necessitate some awareness in terms of how the dialogue is said concerning whom they’re attributed to. The good thing here is that the script, written by Luis Gamboa and Santiago Limón, doesn’t lose sight of where things are going in the long haul, and at the end of the day, the film is still centered around its core protagonists and the one goal they all have in common despite all other incidents and goings-on.
That firstly leaves us with the roles played by Godoy and Barceló, as they galavant and talk all things uncouth between their wits and wills until matters eventually delve into feelings over a certain girl in a certain neighborhood, then it’s all a mystery until things unfold for better or worse. While Tavo’s feelings for Ana can’t be helped, he often gets in his own way unless her uncouth and bullish boyfriend gets in his way first. As for “Chronos,” he lives a life cultivated by movie references and oddities, and knowing nothing of Tavo’s mental state, he too, dreams of being with Ana.
The film also stars Luciana Vale, who plays Ana’s friend Rex, and
Vincent Webb, who joins in as Rex’s Texan transplant and friend, Johnny, who practically has a whole introductory pitch to anyone he meets for the first time. It’s almost as annoying as it is mildly unpleasant when his character suddenly parts ways with the group because the kid kind of grows on you. His character comes dressed as its own incarnation of Rambo for Halloween, and like clockwork, he’s the one oddball you want on your team since he knows his way around a rifle.
The zombie action is where it’s at though, topped with some cool slow-mo moments and gory kills from each character, including Vale’s Rex who goes hard with a chainsaw and at one point, a samurai sword, and Godoy who shines from time to time in just a few parkour sequences throughout the film. de Regis’s casting imaginably makes for a fun reunion for her and Cartas following their previous series drama work on “Rosario Tijeras,” which ended in 2019.
Lively and unabashed at times, Mexzombies makes for a substantive adventure of action, horror and youthful self-discovery, topped with strong and charismatic performances all led by Godoy in fine form. If you’re able to catch this one ahead of “One Piece,” you’re in for a real treat.
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Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.