Sunday, May 31, 2015

Horror Film Review

Zombeavers (2014):  I know, I know.  Just hear me out.  It's not what you think. is what you think, but it's not as bad as you think.  With a nod to 70s exploitation and 80s schlock, Zombeavers threads the horror/comedy needle with subtle satire, outrageous sight gags, and what's gotta be sub-par acting by design.  And there's absolutely no damn good reason it should work.  It just does.

We start with Luke (John Mayer) and Joseph (Bill Burr) driving a truck loaded with poorly secured barrels of biohazardous waste (fluorescent green, of course).  They hit a deer which sends a barrel flying into a river where it floats downstream to a beaver dam.

Cut to the cliche:  Three girlfriends, bitchy Zoe (Cortney Palm), nerdy Mary (Rachel Melvin), and blond bombshell Jenn (Lexi Atkins) drive to a remote lakeside cabin to enjoy a boyfriend-free weekend together.  I'll state the obvious now because it's important later:  no cell phone service.

Anyway, they swim and tan (Zoe topless) and meet creepy local hunter Smyth (Rex Linn of CSI: Miami fame).  They also discover a beaver dam spattered with green goo that they ascertain is beaver pee (?).  Later, the boyfriends show up unannounced.  Jenn's mad at Sam (Hutch Dano) who cheated on her.  Mary's guy is the take-action stud Tommy (Jake Weary) and Zoe's is the annoying party douche Buck (Peter Gilroy).  Jenn finds a "rabid" beaver in the bathtub.  Tommy pulps it with a bat, bags it, and dumps it on the porch.  It's gone in the morning.  They shrug and go swimming.  Then the real fun begins.  Buck loses a foot, a dog is sacrificed, and the group barricades themselves in the cabin...although they soon realize Buck may need a hospital since Buck is bleeding to death.  Tommy, Zoe, and Buck make a run for it in Mary's car.  The beavers felled trees, blocking the road...and they also coincidentally chewed through the phone lines.  Smyth to the rescue!  Sort of.  We soon learn the effect of a zombie beaver bite.  Yes, humans transform into zombie beavers.  And wouldn't you know it, in addition to being experts at chewing through wood, beavers are also fabulous tunnelers.  In the end, a few of the survivors make a break for it in Smyth's truck.  Let's just say the result probably isn't what they hoped for.

The undead beavers are animatronic puppets instead of CGI, thank God.  Yes it's goofy but with this movie, that's the point.  Many scenes are a riotous hoot.  Like when the beavers are popping up through the floor and Sam and Mary, using a bat and hammer, are forced to play Whack-A-Mole.  And then there's the bit where a beaverized Jenn uses her newly grown buck teeth to gnaw off Sam's, uh, manhood.  Guys may want to avert their gaze at this point.  Luke and Joseph really bring the funny with their off the wall banter in the truck.  I wish they'd had more screen time.  And an understated Linn as Smyth is simply hilarious.  However, the best part comes at the very end in the form of a song.  It sounds like Sinatra (it's not) and he sings the Zombeavers theme.  Oh, my dear Lord, it's good.

Complaints are few.  While a relatively short film, it's a slow starter.  I think Zoe's boobs were used to keep the viewer interested until the blood-letting began.  I'm no expert, but they seem to be pretty nice boobs.  In fairness, we are also treated to smartphone pics of a penis.  Not a very nice penis.  I would normally wholeheartedly bitch about plot holes and the moronic behavior of the characters (e.g. how in hell does Zoe run into the only tree in a huge yard?), yet in this case, it's expected.

The Skinny

Acting:  You'd have to ask them, but I'd wager the players adjusted their performances to fit the material.  In other words, good actors acting like bad actors.  If true, it's genius.
Story:  Not something you see every day.
Direction:  Sluggish at the outset.  I'm not convinced the time spent establishing the characters and exploring Sam's infidelity was time well spent.  Could have used more consistent beaver carnage.
Production Values:  Surprisingly beautiful cinematography during the opening of a film that while obviously low budget, certainly looks nothing like a low budget film.
Gore/FX:  Plenty of blood yet not as gory as I anticipated.  Except for when Sam gets his junk mauled.  Gross.  The only CGI is Buck's footless leg.
Scares:  Oh, maybe a jump scare or two.  Frightening the audience was not a priority.
Ending:  Let's just say it all comes full circle.  After the film is over, we're treated to a short gag reel followed by the groovy theme song not sung by Frank Sinatra.
Verdict:  Should you watch Zombeavers?  You should, yes.  I need to mention that this film was suggested to me by my friend Scott, the man responsible for my love of horror (he forced me to watch Romero's Night of the Living Dead in college).  Oddly, he has yet to watch it himself.  So I'm dedicating this review to you, Scott.  It's got everything you love:  boobs, blood, and beavers.  See it, already.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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