'Amigo Undead': Film Review
A group of friends find themselves fighting for their lives when one of them dies accidentally and returns as a zombie.
The only film genre more ubiquitous than zombie movies is zombie movie spoofs. The latest example, courtesy of director Ryan Nagata, doesn't really offer anything terribly different or imaginative, but it does provide some deadpan laughs and a welcome starring opportunity for rising talent Randall Park, so memorable as Kim Jong-un in the ill-fated The Interview and currently starring in ABC's hit sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. Amigo Undead, recently screened at the IFS Film Festival, is currently available on VOD/digital platforms.
The Korean-American actor plays mild-mannered financial advisor Kevin Ostorwski, whose name, as it's explained many times in the course of the film, stems from the fact that he was adopted. Estranged from his slacker/stoner brother Norm (Steve Agee), he's surprised to receive an invitation to join his sibling and several friends on a camping trip to celebrate Norm's 40th birthday. Norm, who informs him that he has diabetes, puts it as a "dying man's wish."
Showing up in the desert where Norm explains that they'll be "chillaxing" for a few days, Kevin soon finds himself getting more than he bargained for when one of Norm's companions, the affable Jovan (Ed Galvez), chokes on a hot dog and dies. Adding insult to injury, his corpse is then accidentally shot.
Over Kevin's objections, the panicked men decide to bury Jovan in the desert. A big mistake as it turns out, as the burly undocumented immigrant was apparently placed in cursed Native American land and soon comes back from the dead and proceeds to attack his friends.
Although Jovan is not much of a threat since his lumbering, slow-paced manner is of the old-fashioned zombie variety, the group resorts to retaliatory measures inspired by the Home Alone movies. Along the way, they encounter a small-town sheriff (Jeff Bryan Davis) who has little use for "city perverts" and a crazy old man (David Clennon) who says that in order to defeat the zombie they must "cleanse" their souls.
"Let's all tug one out," he affably suggests.
The screenplay, co-written by Nagata and George Edelman, delivers some funny moments, such as when the zombie strangles one of his victims with his own intestines, sparking the response, "That's unnecessary!" Later, when he's seemingly rendered helpless by having several limbs severed, Kevin points out that they're safe "unless he can re-form or something, like a T-1000."
That's one of many knowing pop cultural references scattered throughout, with the old coot apparently having a familiarity with the Human Centipede movies. The film also has its share of amusing sight gags, such as when Norm, resigned to being killed by the zombie, simply moves his chair a few feet away every minute or so to avoid his clutches.
Park, largely relegated to the role of straight man, anchors the proceedings with an affable charm, while the supporting players tear into their broadly drawn roles with comic gusto.
It's all instantly forgettable, but zombie movie fans, apparently as legion as the undead creatures themselves, should appreciate the self-referential zaniness.
Production: Fighting Fox Films
Cast: Randall Park, Steve Agee, Mike McCafferty, Josh Fadem, Ed Galvez, David Clennon
Director: Ryan Nagata
Screenwriters: Ryan Nagata, George Edelman
Producers: George Edelman, Danijel Sraka
Executive producers: Mike Dill, Lowell Shapiro
Director of photography: Ben Pluimer
Production designers: Prerna Chawla, Amanda Smith
Editor: Dean Pablo
Costume designer: Jennifer Green
Composer: Matt Bowen
Not rated, 84 minutes