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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

DECEMBER 31, 2012

GENRE: COMEDIC, ZOMBIE
SOURCE: STREAMING (NETFLIX INSTANT)

There aren't a lot of movies on this site that I could describe as "pleasant", but that's the perfect term to describe A Little Bit Zombie. It isn't very funny or innovative, and you can see most of its gags coming a mile away, but I was still more or less enjoying the time I spent watching it - though when it ended, Netflix suggested I watch DeadHeads, which made me realize how much better this could have been.

Like DeadHeads, it's basically a rom-com with zombies; in this case, a guy, his best friend, his sister, and his bride-to-be (also a "bridezilla" - there's a bit of a Very Bad Things vibe at times, albeit not nearly as mean-spirited or dark) are off on a weekend getaway a week before the big day, sorting out the final arrangements and hopefully strengthening the bond between the two women, who do not get along. But our hero (Kristopher Turner, who's got a serious Josh Radnor thing going on) gets bitten by a zombie mosquito and slowly begins to turn, which complicates matters. As this is a comedy first and foremost, there isn't much violence - in fact the "stakes" in the plot mainly revolve around the fact that he's hungry for brains (there's a great running gag where he will drool uncontrollably whenever someone says "brains") but can't bring himself to kill anyone to get them, which is a nice way of avoiding lots of makeup or kill scenes.

The other "action" plot involves Stephen McHattie and Emilie Ullerup as a pair of zombie hunter types; McHattie being the muscle who just wants to blow them away as soon as he can, and Ullerup as the brains who looks to find a cure. McHattie is a delight; it's rare to see him getting the opportunity to have this much fun in a role, as he gets to chew the scenery constantly and is pretty much the only one in the movie to register any kills. In fact he's so fun to watch that it almost makes up for all the digital blood and FX that pepper such scenes - since there's only one zombie (who merely turns a bit pale) it's kind of a bummer that the limited FX aren't top notch, but McHattie should be drawing your attention from all the pixels so it's not too big of a deal.

The plot does wear a bit thin after a while, however. Everyone just has one note - Steve's trying to go on like normal (like the leads in DeadHeads, Steve retains the ability to think, speak, etc - apart from the paler skin there's no way to tell he's undead), the bride (Crystal Lowe) is constantly panicking about the wedding, the best friend just basically plays the modern Vince Vaughn role of "cool bro", etc. There aren't too many other characters in the movie beyond the main quartet and the two hunters, so there's not a lot of opportunities for the movie to mix things up - if you're not on board with its brand of humor, there's not much else here to entice you. I found the gags pretty hit or miss; I loved the sight gag of Steve having to choose between two identical (to us, not to his fiance) floral arrangements, and there's a fun subplot involving a bunny that added some much appreciated black humor to the proceedings, but like I said, most of it was pretty predictable (typical joke: "You have cold feet" "No, I love you and I want to marry you!" "No, I mean your feet, they're freezing!"), and big laugh out loud moments were few and far between.

Bearing that in mind, I liked how optimistic it was; there's a "sweet" bit where they realize he needs to feed and decide to go town and find some degenerate asshole to bring back for him to eat - in its own warped way, I like the idea of having friends who would literally kill for you (and on that note, I appreciated how everyone just sort of accepted that his zombie nature was just another thing to deal with before the wedding). And this actually helps the girls bond a bit, so it all works out nicely!

And again, it was just pleasant - everyone's trying hard, they're not stretching beyond their limitations, and (thank Christ) it didn't feel like the director had a copy of Shaun of the Dead on his nightstand to consult before returning to set each day, which automatically puts it above quite a few zom-coms of the past few years (that said - we really need to give the "zoom in on random clothing/accessories as the hero gets ready for battle"/Evil Dead sequence a rest; even by the time Shaun did it I felt it was overused). And being New Year's Eve and all, I admired the good natured feeling to it all - a nice way to close out the final full year of HMAD (sorry, guy who is annoyed I keep mentioning that the site is ending). It wasn't the greatest movie, but it put me in a good mood - and reminded me to remind you all to watch DeadHeads! Seriously, one of the better zom-coms I've seen.

What say you?

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