Directed by: Rafael Martinez, Iñaki San Román | 17 minutes | horror, action, short film | Actors: Samuel Viyuala Gonzalez, Aroa Gimena, Javier Ríos, Paco Hidalgo, Maria San Miguel, Manuel Vidal, Rafael Reano, Eduardo Garcia, Velu Requexu, Monica Miranda
This Spanish ‘Zombies & Cigarettes’ takes place in a large shopping center. Connoisseurs will immediately think of George Romero’s film ‘Dawn of the Dead’ from 1978 in which Romero inimitably made a shopping center the location for numerous zombie perils and in which the main characters hid themselves against the zombies and for external attacks.
However, this is not the case here. The time is lacking. Not so much because of the relatively short running time of this film, but also because the zombies are portrayed here as running and fast zombies as is the case in the remake of Romero’s 2004 film and in the ’28 Days / Weeks Later ‘zombie films. There is no question of a gradual build-up. After the brief introduction of Xavi and Carol, dozens of zombies arrive without any warning. The only thing that can be done so soon is to run off like a hare and instinctively duck into a hideout and then feverishly search for a way out.
So there is not much time to look for weapons, they have to be run into more or less by accident. With some baseball bats, sticks, a revolver found by chance and some old-fashioned brawl, the zombies have to be kept at a distance. And that happens quite effectively. Some zombie heads and zombie bodies that are ravaged by hitting bullets, zombies that are set on fire, some hit with batons… the zombies will have to take a little bit of it. But they themselves do not stand by themselves as usual and there are the necessary (un) tasty scenes when we are presented with the necessary biting, bite, pulling and tearing work with some related gore. In terms of special effects, convincingly rendered and the zombies are also threatening and terrifying in appearance. And the corridors and spaces of the shopping center are neatly used to find hiding places and escape routes again and again, as is the case here, although significantly on a smaller scale, also in Romero’s zombie classic. It’s all neatly done and fans of this kind of development will appreciate it.
There may be some drawbacks, however. This ‘Zombies & Cigarettes’ does not have much news to offer. They are starting points and developments that occur in numerous zombie films and in which clichés are also present: some love troubles, a group of perhaps not too many matching characters who are forced to work together, the location of – although that will mainly count as a plus here – the shopping center itself, the group of people we follow and which is slowly thinned out by the zombies unexpectedly appearing from all nooks and crannies… There are also some question marks about the origins of the zombies and how they can be combated. A specific zombie looks remarkably intact considering the way he was torn to pieces by the zombies as a living character. But it is not too big downsides in this story that, although that will not be the case anyway due to the short playing time, it will not be boring for a second. On the contrary, it always knows how to keep your attention when it offers a successful mix of action, excitement and horror at a smooth but not rushed pace.
Meritorious acting from the actors whose characters we follow through the story. Maybe some exaggerated macho behavior from Javier Ríos as the Kendo emerging leader, but on the other hand, you can use a confident leader in such situations. Neat work also by Samuel Gonzales as the gradually more self-aware Xavi and of Aroa Gimeno as his secret love Carol. Finally also solid work by Paco Hidalgo as the rather ungrateful and, although understandably enough, rather opportunistically minded ice cream man Anselmo for his rescue. Despite the somewhat misleading title in terms of ‘Cigarettes’, it makes ‘Zombies & Cigarettes’ a successful zombie film. Despite the short running time, the film manages to achieve the same atmosphere as it is present in the ’28 Days / Weeks Later ‘zombie films. It is also a pity that it does not have a longer playing time because this short Spanish zombie film is successful and promising enough and was well suited for that. All in all, not to be missed for fans of zombie and horror films.