That the last few years have seen the likes of Howard J Ford’s super-smart and affecting The Dead, Gregg Bishop’s dorky and sweet Dance Of The Dead and Tommy Wirkola’s stark Dead Snow prove that despite what armchair analysts insist, there’s just as much creative fertility in the zombie subgenre as there was when George A Romero first drove Barbara to the graveyard.
It undermines this argument no end that the zombie has become just another digit in the movie making mathematical equation that can be relied upon to make people seal-clap in joy at the mere mention of the title.
Following hot on the heels of the ghastly Strippers Vs Werewolves – which also starred loads of British soap regulars facing off against the forces of darkness – Beyond The Rave director Matthias Hoene and Severance writer James Moran fumble around similar territory with Cockneys Vs Zombies, pitting a bunch of snarling Cockney stereotypes that were briefly popular between the release of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, against the living dead circa Edgar Wright’s wistful Shaun Of The Dead.
Described as horror comedy – as if the absence of one excuses the total lack of the other – there’s nothing scary and precious little funny about Cockneys Vs Zombies, least of all the unlikable main characters, who hold up a bank and take two people hostage, and then confess they were only doing so to save their granddad’s old folks home from being sold in one of the least successful attempts to provoke audience sympathy ever. Bionic Woman and one time Doctor Who star Michelle Ryan is capable, if strangely underused – perhaps remaining the most appealing of the bunch because of it.
The old folks, led by Snatch‘s cartoonish Alan Ford and The Avengers and Goldfinger‘s Honor Blackman, fare slightly better. It’s hard not to emotionally fall in line when OAPs are placed in danger, even if they spend as much time snarling “I’LL AV YOU, YOU FAKKING MAPPIT” nearly as often as the younger cast. The lovely Richard Briers feels sweetly out of place – an oasis of class and genuine human feeling in this overwhelming monster truck rally of played out clichés.
In a world filled with both good new zombie movies – the aforementioned The Dead, for example – and fantastic new horror comedies – Tucker & Dale Vs Evil, The Cabin In The Woods, Attack The Block and more – there’s little reason to grind through an uninspired, if technically competent, mash-up of two things you’ve seen countless times before.