Comedias Zombies para el apocalipsis cinematográfico.

Es bien sabido que alrededor del cine de zombies,  más allá del gore y  de sus aportaciones a la deconstrucción del monstruo, existe una tendencia de parte de sus creadores hacia la métafora y la crítica social. El mismo George Romero ha expresado en entrevistas que él normalmente usa el género para crear una sátira a la sociedad actual y a la cultura capitalista.

Romero representa a través de sus películas una visión pesimista del ser humano, donde usualmente logra explicar que, en circunstancias extremas, los seres humanos tenderíamos a matarnos entre nosotros, ya que representamos un peligro mayor que el que cualquiera de los muertos vivientes podría llegar a causar.

La comedia, al igual que el cine de zombies, también refiere sus técnicas a un nivel de sátira y crítica que usualmente recae en la sociedad y las formas en la que ésta se desarrolla. Por ello, resulta muy atractivo cuando una película de zombies hace uso de la comedia, y no tanto del terror, dentro de su narrativa.

Como en todo género, hay películas bien hechas que cumplen su cometido y muchas otras que no logran ser algo más que un intento fallido. Debido a ello, me di a la tarea de crear una lista de recomendaciones en comedias zombie que, con gusto, se las comparto.

Advertencia: Si bien Shaun Of The Dead es un excelente ejemplo de una comedia de zombies bien hecha, no es la única ni la mejor, por ello les recomiendo ver estas películas con una mente abierta y sin esperar que funcione igual que dicho título.

Juan Of The Dead (2011) Alejandro Brugués

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Desarrollada en la ciudad de La habana, Cuba, vemos una historia donde los muertos regresan a la vida, mientras que un grupo de personas (lideradas por Juan) deciden aprovechar el momento y ofrecen sus servicios (a cambio de una módica cantidad de dinero) para (volver a) matar a los seres queridos (o “disidentes”) de los cubanos.

Una película que no se queda atrás con la crítica social y enfoca su narrativa en deconstruir el pensamiento socialista de los ciudadanos de Cuba a través de los resultados que un peligro tan grande, como una invasión zombie, puede lograr.

Life After Beth (2014) Jeff Baena

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La película comienza con la muerte de Beth, una chica suburbana en medio de una relación catastrófica con Zach, que regresa a la vida sin darse cuenta de su transformación en zombie. Sobra decir que los resultados son catastróficos.

Una interesante historia protagonizada por Aubrey Plaza y Dane DeeHan, donde la figura del zombie representa lo monstruosa que puede convertirse una relación cuando ya no existe amor ni vida que la impulse a seguir adelante(Sí, hice ese chiste).

Zombieland (2009) Ruben Fleischer

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Un grupo de individuos (conformado por Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin y Jessee Eisenberg) busca salir con vida del apocalipsis zombie en el que se encuentran viviendo después de que la invasión logró desaparecer a más de 3/4 de la población.

Más que una simple comedia de zombies se trata de un estudio de personajes (muy humanos, por cierto) donde sus motivaciones se encuentran al centro del filme. Una fuerte crítica a la sociedad y su recalcitrante necesidad de encontrar la felicidad para formar y transformar individuos completos.

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015) Cristopher B. Landon

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Adaptación del libro con el mismo nombre que gira alrededor de un grupo de adolescentes (en su mayoría scouts) que buscan protegerse entre sí mientras el apocalipsis zombie sucede a su alrededor. Es el pináculo de la comedia zombie hecha para el público millenial. Imperdibles sus referencias a la cultura pop.

De todos lo filmes en esta lista es la comedia más simple y con menos crítica de todas, algo que no le resta ni calidad de humor ni cantidad de zombies. Perfecta para ver con tus amigos un fin de semana de flojera.

Shaun Of The Dead (2004) Edgar Wright

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Película que forma parte de la famosa “trilogía Corneto”, de Wright, y que gira alrededor de Shaun (Simon Pegg) y las diferentes formas en las que se relaciona y mantiene sus lazos con las personas esenciales que conforman su vida: su novia Liz (Kate Ashfield), su madre (Penelope Wilton) y su mejor amigo (Nick Frost). Ah, y hay un apocalipsis zombie sucediendo a su alrededor.

Otro ejemplo perfecto de una historia que dedica su narrativa a complejizar y entender a sus personajes principales con la idea principal de representar, y criticar, a los participantes de la sociedad inglesa y las formas en las que se relacionan. Los zombies no tienen otra función más que actuar como propiciadores y creadores de caos necesario dentro de la rutinaria vida de los protagonistas.

Bonus: Cooties (2014) Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

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Filme que gira alrededor de un grupo de maestros que buscan protegerse de una plaga que transforma a todos los niños de su colegio en zombies. Lo que más llama la atención es su cast conformado por Elijah Wood, Nasim Pedrad y Rainn Wilson.

La historia no se preocupa en resolver nada ni tampoco intenta realizar algún tipo de crítica, provocando que parezca un tanto simple. A final de cuentas, es muy dominguera.

¿Están de acuerdo con esta selección? ¿Cuáles son sus selecciones? No duden en escribir en la sección de comentarios y compartirme algún otro filme que podría entrar en esta lista.

Death in a time of parallelisms: deconstructing the Antihero trope in TV shows.

Warning: This post contains serious spoilers from Bloodline season 1 and 2, House Of Cards season 2 and Breaking Bad season 5.

Nowadays, it’s very common to watch a whole roaster of heroes and superheroes take on their own stories within the visual products we consume on a daily basis. From literal heroes to protagonists with big ambitions and a strong moral compass embeded in society’s high values, television and cinema have succesfully singlehandedly developed -and adapted- marvelous stories  with heroic characters that we, as an audience, can often relate with.

Heroes are good through and through, they often do the right thing because is right and, most of the times, they get rewarded for their actions. Of course, they are not perfect, but they depict the most accurate version of a good human being. That said, what happens when this person becomes an atypical individual? One that doesn’t go by the rules, or any moral compass but his own, and is often apathetic? Simple, an Antihero arises.

According to tvtropes.org, an Antihero is an amoral misfit that has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero.  They often work as a profound deconstruction of the traditionally heroic genres. Ultimately, an Antihero is just a consequence of the hero taking another path towards their goals. A hero gone wrong.

So, where do we should draw the line between a hero and an Antihero? What does it have to happen to a hero to walk across to become the Antihero hidden underneath all of that layers? Where is the point break where there is no return? If television has taught us anything, I would probably say it could happen after facing death, specifically by murder.

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Not so long ago, a typical Antihero would be portrayed as an awful human being who’s only way of acting would be on self interest. Nowadays, TV shows are really at its best when they develop well-constructed and layered characters to carry character-driven episodes and fascinating character study plots, something that Bloodline excels at. In order to understand Antiheroes, we need to peel all the layers that surrounds them.

Before murdering his brother in cold blood, John Rayburn, one of their protagonists, was a character with clear goals and ostensibly heading to become the voice of reason and central role model of his family in the showGranted, the Rayburns are not depicted as the most healthy and perfectly functional human beings, they do have a troubled and very fucked up past that always finds a way to come back to haunt them, but at least they keep trying their very best to manage it.

John wasn’t the first Antihero to arise within Bloodline‘s narrative, along came Danny. If you have seen this show (seriously, you should watch it), you’ll know that the youngest Rayburn sibling, Sarah, died  at a young age when Danny was watching her. Living this complicated situation was the reason why he shaped the Antihero figure he became, leaving him only with a broken and damaged life to survive with. Danny and John’s  stories are clearly different whereas their actions are coincidentally embedded.

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That’s why Antiheroes in TV shows often need another character to contrast with in order to be legitimized as one in the first place. Dichothomies, parallels and counterparts work wonders with this type of characters, and their stories, when their flaws and virtues need to be noted. So it definetely wouldn’t be a coincidence if the writers of any given show decided to include someone in their script to balance and tie up their Antihero figure, in order to understand their particular gravitas and ethos.

Portraying both Danny and John as Antiheroes in season 1 and 2, correspondingly, worked greatly because it helped to enrich each character’s profound layers and motives as it was ideal to contrast them with the Bad Guy/Good Guy dichotomy level of understanding they carry with themselves.

When season one started off, John was certainly trying to do his best to be a hero. Notwithstanding, when his toxic brother arrived, he rapidly welcomes him back to the family without any hesitation, trusting him with blind faith and hoping for better days to come. Unfortunately, and depicting the perfect Antihero figure, Danny totes nothing but problems to their siblings, and even to the family inn, leading to his inevitable demise whilst passing the Antihero torch to his brother John in an somewhat act of self-defense.

Ah, ‘self-defense’, a simple word reflecting on an act so big and backhanded that can easily trigger any kind of feelings within a human being. Something that can transform a self-righteous cop into a murderer or a chemistry teacher, into a drug lord.

Just like Walter White, one of the most well-known Antiheroes of our time, that became that cold apathetic drug lord we all love to hate after his very first murder: a drug dealer called Emilio Koyima. Just like John Rayburn, he commited murder thoughtlessly on a self-defense act that not only pushed him to a road where there was no coming back, but also awoke the Antihero hidden deep inside of him.

Breaking Bad did a great job portraying Walter White’s ascension from the shy cancer victim to the shrewd drug lord, thirsty with power, that uses his family as an excuse for his behavior. Jesse Pinkman, on the other hand, served as a counterpoint to Walt’s antihero. He was the inocent life that White carried along, and couldn’t save, but didn’t turn into him either.

Their relationship didn’t work as a dichotomy as it is, but more as an action/consequence kind of dynamic. Where Walter White’s delusional plans were, Jesse Pinkman’s insecurities arose. Narratively speaking, this depiction was perfectly thought in order to draw upon the Antihero status of the character by contrasting him with his student’s decisions.

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Whereas Jesse Pinkman did get to live on the season’s end, Walter White, just as Danny Rayburn, got a comeuppance of his own and  ended up dying. The same fate that Zoe Barnes, in House Of Cards, had to face, before even having the chance of becoming an Antihero, when a murkier Frank Underwood decided that she was not relevant for him anymore as she started to pose a threat to his journey for the presidency.

Underwood’s main Antihero qualities veer around his prowess to manipulate people to do what he wants without making him look bad. Zoe Barnes’ murder, along with Peter Russo’s, was that necessary flame that the character needed in order to gain that apathy and brazen attitude that distinguish his Antihero status.

So, whilst John and Walter are paired with another men in order to aknowledge their bits and parts that they all share as male Antiheroes, House Of Cards cleverly matched up Frank with his wife, Claire, an evident Antihero on the rise for power. Unlike any of them, Underwood’s wife function in the story is not to become a contrast character but more to work as a parallel, or an equal. Whatever Frank does, Claire has already thought and perfected. She embodies everything he is. She is the result of all the decisions he took along the way and managed to get away with it.

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Whilst death and murder are often used as a defining moment of the Antihero, contrast and parallelisms with characters around are used to understand what’s going on in their minds. Hence, as it happens in real life, we only judge someone when we compare them with our own experiences.