Saturday, January 25, 2014

Horror Film Review

Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012):  When Harrison Ford was asked what he thought of the title of his film Cowboys vs. Aliens, Ford replied, "Well, what the hell else are you gonna call it?"  My thoughts exactly about this one (although I'm sure they would have called it EastEnders vs. Zombies if they knew the BBC wouldn't sue their asses off).  So how does C v .Z measure up to the increasingly crowded zom-com subgenre?  At the very least, it's not a load of old pony.  (You're welcome, residents of East London.)

A construction crew breaks into a sealed, 17th century tomb despite the ominous warning inscribed on it by authority of King Charles II and unwittingly unleashes zombie hell.  Meanwhile, brothers Terry and Andy (Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway) plan to rob a bank to save their grandfather's retirement home from the wrecking ball.  They enlist the aid of their mouthy cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan), nerdy friend Tuppence (Jack Doolan), and psychotic gun-supplier Mickey (Ashley Thomas).  The robbery doesn't go well.  Pesky silent alarms.  Mickey grabs two hostages Emma and Clive (Georgia King and Tony Gardner) but when they burst through the front door to face the police, they find zombie carnage.  They make it back to their warehouse HQ with some difficulty where they lose a few of the group, and then commandeer an iconic double-decker bus for the trip to the retirement home to rescue Granddad (Alan Ford) and his mates.  A second storyline follows Granddad's struggle against the undead interlopers and is hilarious.  Especially the bit where Hamish (Richard Briers) attempts to outrun the zombie horde with his walker.  By the way, Granddad is a WWII vet who's lost none of his piss and vinegar.  Not one drop.

Almost forgot, Terry, Andy, and company stop off at Mickey's storage unit before heading to the retirement home.  Mickey's got guns.  Lots and lots of guns.  And grenades.  Post rescue finds the two generations on the run to a boat and hopefully safety.  Standing in their way, however, are a few hundred zombies.  And they're all a bit peckish. 

I very much enjoyed seeing senior citizens blasting away with pistols, shotguns, and Uzis (they had to duct tape Hamish's Uzi to his walker, of course).  It's a reminder of what the Greatest Generation accomplished 70 years ago and what, if necessary, they are still capable of.  The are a number of great lines in this film but my favorite happens when they reach the retirement home.  Emma's behind the wheel of the bus when Terry says, "Wait here, but if we're not back in ten minutes..."  Katy breaks in and says, "Wait some more."  Brilliant.

While this movie is very funny, it suffers from what I consider to be zom-com market saturation.  Not to take away from the filmmakers' noble effort, but it's been done before and done better.  Nevertheless, there are additional bits I liked.  The famous (or infamous) Cockney rhyming is featured.  I don't understand it, but I like it anyway.  The crush Doreen (Georgina Hale) has on Andy is an absolute hoot.  There are cougars and then there's Doreen.  I also enjoyed Granddad's non-stop and colorful cussing.  Having battled Nazis and now zombies, he's allowed. 

The Skinny

Acting:  Hardiker is too shrill while conversely, Treadaway is too subdued.  Ryan as Katy and Doolan as Tuppence, however, get it just right.  Thomas as Mickey and Ford as Graddad are all ham.
Story:  Part Shaun of the Dead, part Cocoon
Direction:  It never achieves the cohesion that would have accentuated the positives.  It also lacks a sense of apocalyptic urgency that would no doubt be present. 
Production Values:  No budget data, but it teeters on the brink of B-grade cheapie without going over the edge. 
Gore/FX:  Plenty of both.  The majority of the really nasty zombie kills are too obviously CGI. 
Scares:  Not a priority.
Ending:  Oddly low key.  No twists or last second "gotchas."
Verdict:  Should you watch Cockneys vs. Zombies?  It's certainly worth 88 minutes of your life.  A word of warning, though...a baby does get drop-kicked.  But it had it coming. 

Rating:  4 out of 5

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