Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Nicholas Brennan, Los Últimos Frikis is a new documentary telling the story of a band with whom many viewers will have very little familiarity. Combining the shell of a traditional rock doc with a story and subjects that are anything but, Brennan has delivered a compelling look into counterculture in the most unexpected of places.
The film tells the story of Cuban heavy metal group Zeus and their frontman Diony Arce as they challenge the status quo to express themselves in a way unlike their society had seen before. Admittedly, the main thing that makes this movie so interesting is the shroud of mystery that surrounds most of Cuban culture. Although restrictions have been recently relaxed, there is still a lot that is unknown about their people and culture.
Clocking in at right around an hour and a quarter, the film is certainly very brief, but it does a very good job of providing a cursory glance into the lives of these musicians. Although there is plenty more that Brennan could have explored, there is enough substance to everything that the movie addresses that audiences will be satisfied.
Of course, the film does get a bit political at times, as one would expect from any movie that takes a look at the society of Cuba. An important part of Zues’s story is the oppression that they faced from the Castro regime as the government’s grip was tightened on any form of creative expression, particularly those that voiced sentiments going against the government.
The film does a very good job of developing the main subject, Arce. He has an extremely compelling story, both as a musician who thrives in an unwelcoming situation and as a social activist who faces intense persecution but still speaks out for a cause in which he believed. Unfortunately, the rest of the band members are nowhere near as well-developed as Arce, but the movie works nonetheless.
On a technical level, Brennan’s film is a tad too conventional for its own good, but thanks to the short runtime and captivating on-screen personas of its subjects, it never loses the viewer’s attention. The story is told through a combination of performance footage, interviews, and fly-on-the-wall footage, which is not atypical for the genre.
If nothing else, though, the movie serves as an excellent way for American audiences to be introduced to some really interesting new music. Thankfully, the filmmakers chose to subtitle the lyrics of Zeus’s songs, so it will be easy for any audience member to understand and appreciate the complexity of the band’s music.
Los Últimos Frikis may be a bit safer than the title implies, but it is still a riveting and informative documentary. Any fan of rock music owes it to themselves to watch this story of what may be the most unique hard rock band in existence today.
Los Últimos Frikis was set to screen at the cancelled 2020 Miami Film Festival, and is now screening for a limited online festival run here. It is currently seeking distribution.