Monday, June 17, 2013

DVD of the Week: Cockneys vs Zombies

The current wave of Zombie fiction (or should that be Horde?) has got to burn itself out soon, right? I mean, nearly every computer game seems to have some sort of zombie level in it now, TV shows regularly do some sort of "zombie homage" episode, the pop-culture-black-hole of the mash-up genre seems to be reduced to "....and zombies". Zombies. Zombies. Zombies. I've never been a huge fan of the sub-genre - with some notable exceptions - but i recognise the fun that can be had with it, and am certainly happy to paddle in the shallow end of "zombie comedy", rather than the more nihilistic "proper horror" deep end. Which brings us to Cockneys vs Zombies, a zombie comedy that appears to be happening just around the corner from Shaun of the Dead.

It may be unfair to mention Shaun this early in the review but it's shadow hangs over the film in both the general tone - bouncing between broad comedy and gruesome death - and the occasional directorial flourishes that come and go through the film as if the editors keep forgetting to do it. It's tongue is firmly in it's cheek with its central characters of vaguely incompetent cockney gangster-wannabes and hardmen, - wiv a van an' sum shootas, guv'nor, cor blimey, it's only the bleedin' zombie apocalypse! - and a fairly A-to-B plot about getting to an old peoples home and saving the old folks there.

But that said it's very charmingly done - the younger cast are light on their feet and the right sort of colourful, and the old folks are staffed full of experienced character actors (including Honor Blackman and Richard Briers) who know how to steal a scene or two without making it look hard. There is a some fresh gags to be had - a stand out "chase scene" with Briers being one - and whilst the fates of the most of the characters can be guessed at pretty early its done with panache and humour. It's fun, basically, even if its not hugely original.

What it lacks, however is any real bite - the Zombie apocalypse is so familiar now that a movie like Cockneys vs Zombies doesn't have to make any effort to do anything with concept, to explain it, play with it, or reinvent it, just let it be a shambling, groaning punchline to a different sort of story. That's all well and good - and I enjoyed the film well enough - but I can't help but think it really is time to put this particular end of civilisation out of it's misery.