“What a bloody hoo-ha. Makes a lot of sense if you’ve got none. Here’s a giggle, just a little bit of fun.”
The lyrics to the song (by Sacha Puttnam and Gian Morrocco) that closes FUBAR lay out the film’s aims and intentions. Director/co-writer Ben Kent’s feature debut is played strictly for laughs, as it follows a stag party of likely lads going on a zombie-apocalypse-themed paint-balling weekend in the woods. Opening with groom-to-be Sam (Sean Verey) vomiting drunkenly from a moving vehicle before breakfast, and devoting much of its plot to the various attempts of Sam’s over-entitled lawyer friend Myles (Timothy Renouf) to void his bowels, the film showcases an armageddon of bodily functions, men behaving badly and, eventually, total war, as a party of intoxicated morons celebrate their friend’s passage into responsible adulthood with one last hurrah of infantile recklessness that will have some very bloody repercussions.
The ‘Crazy Crew’ formed two decades ago in high school, but are drifting towards middle-age and away from each other. Eric (Danny Kirrane), a fantasist and eternal child, resents that Sam is getting married, and resents even more that Toby (David Mumeni), already married, never behaves in a foolhardy manner and never stops talking about his eight-month-old son. So Eric has organised this trip in the hope of bringing the old crew back together – but he is so infantilised that he imagines their make-believe zombie attackers to be the genuine article. All Sam wants to do is impress his supercilious future father-in-law Gerald (Mark Heap), ideally by keeping him as far away as possible from his raucous friends – and in particular from drug dealer Cheese (Perry Fitzpatrick), the group’s ‘Super Hans‘. Ex-Navy stick-in-the-mud Gerald, though, may be engaging in juvenile fantasies of his own.
In military slang, F.U.B.A.R. is an acronym for ‘fucked up beyond all recognition’. Tthe title resonates in multiple ways here, evoking not just the famous description of zombies (in George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead) as “all messed up”, but also the fucked-up condition of characters wasted on booze and drugs – while alluding to the specialist military training both of the event organisers playing the zombies and – allegedly – of the disapproving Gerald. Of course the title describes the film’s rapidly escalating, high-bodycount snafu scenario too, as Sam and his friends leave a trail of poorly concealed corpses, all in their efforts to reclaim their childhood friendship.
In other words, pitched somewhere between television’s The Inbetweeners and David Bruckner’s The Ritual, this is an epic weekender comedy of boys hoping to become men, and men hoping forever to stay boys. The heart of the film is the difficulty that middle-aged men have maintaining or forming bonds, but its guts are a series of increasingly gory, only semi-accidental kills. Though hit and miss, the jokes here make it hard – confronting even – to work through whether we are supposed to be laughing with or at these ridiculous manchildren. Ultimately, FUBAR offers a panoply of (literal) shits and giggles to the undemanding viewer, and reflections on the Peter Pan syndrome to everyone else. As we follow these lost boys to their realisation that taking responsibility for the past is no easier than burying it, we are also shown how their shared history, like the undead, is always coming back to haunt them. For what they have done together, these lads might – and should – be arrested, but in a way, they already are…
FUBAR was seen and reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2018.