Cockneys vs Zombies
As the name suggests, this is a very serious British period piece set shortly before the death of Queen Victoria, the general plot follows an assassination attempt on……
No, it’s cockneys, guns, zombies, guns, old people, and guns. It is everything that you’d hope the film would be, scene stealing actors (not great actors but scene stealing ones), zombie action, and some of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie in years. It is camp to the extreme, but done brilliantly for the budget and keeps the laughs coming.
I was fortunate enough to see this film as CONvergence, a yearly con in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, at a screening prior to it’s limited US release and with James Moran, the screenwriter, in the audience. There was then a question and answer section after that. So a bit of “history” on this film, it was the idea of the films director, with the original idea being a more serious film until James Moran got his hands onto it and turned it into a hilarious comedy/action film. He had a few goals in this film, which included coming up with three things that he had never seen in a zombie film before, I would write what they are, but I only remember two of them and they are a bit spoilerish, albeit on the light spoiler side. This film also has a moment that James Moran said was the best idea he’d ever come up with and that he wouldn’t ever come up with anything as great again, it is one of the most hilarious scenes in the film and very memorable as well.
The story is pretty simple, two brothers are trying to help out their granddad, but don’t have any legal means to do it, so they decide to rob a bank, while they are in the bank, the zombie apocalypse happens in London and they have to fight there way to try and save their granddad with various adventures and odd moments along the way. What works with how this is written is, firstly it doesn’t take itself seriously, at all. It keeps the jokes coming quickly, and with non-stop hilarity. Secondly, the characters have their own stories and personalities. Thirdly, for the type of story it is, it has a happy ending, and one that works perfectly with the film, I get a momentary chill thinking about it, it doesn’t seem like a happy ending was stuck on, but a sad ending would have been so out of place that it would have ruined much of the first part of the film. And the blend of characters works well, you have a good sized range in age and type, plus none of the characters are pigeon holed into one area. And Moran doesn’t do two common zombie things, firstly, he doesn’t spend time explaining where the zombies come from, they are found in a tomb, genetic experiment, contaminated ground water, previous zombie outbreak, who knows, but it doesn’t matter. And lastly, he doesn’t spend time explaining about the head shot. This takes place in modern day London, if you and I know to take out a zombie with a head shot, why wouldn’t these people.
The big names in this film aren’t really the main characters for the most part. Alan Ford and Richard Briers, Snatch and Watershipdown respectively, have rolls in this film and are on screen for a strong period of time, but aren’t the two major protagonists. Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway play the two main characters, they do a good job in those roles, they play off of each other well, as does everyone else in the film, but they are minor names when it comes to American knowledge of their acting with City of Ember and Your Highness being the most recognizable names on their IMDB pages, after Cockneys vs Zombies (or at least I hope it will become that). I should also mention Michelle Ryan who has been in a number of things as well including Jekyll and Cashback, her role is different than the normal girlfriend sort of roll she’s had and she apparently jumped at the opportunity to play a stronger smarter character.
Visually this film has a low budget, the make-up and special effects are solid, but there aren’t a ton of them like you would get with something like Zombieland, but it works well enough in this film, and zombies are so popular now that they had extras coming out from everywhere who wanted to be zombies. One of the extras even sent a 20 minute screen test of himself being a zombie in to become an extra, he got a slightly larger roll than most zombie extras in one of the most memorable scenes. But there aren’t any major mistakes in this film that I caught with continuity or anything like that, and with the type of film it is, who cares. The music also works very well for the film, and a British Cockney band, Chas ‘n’ Dave wanted to be in the film ,but it wouldn’t work with their schedule so they wrote original end credit music for the film.
Overall this is a film I could gush over a long time. Find this film, watch it, it’s coming out in 8 cities in the beginning of August in the US, but also VOD the same day. It is hilarious, well done, and a feel good film. My best comparison for this films is Black Sheep (NZ), but it isn’t nearly as bloody and gory as that film was, and I think it works better that way. It doesn’t try and have the zombie horror jumps, it just is a very straight forward action/comedy film with zombies, and while zombies are starting to get over played a little bit, this is one case where they remain simply fabulous and work.
Critical Grade: C
Entertainment Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A
Just a quick reason for the grade, this film isn’t meant to be looked at through such a critical lens, there are films like this that are just meant to be enjoyed for the absurdity that they are, and if they don’t completely suck in other ways they can be enjoyed, so that is why this has an overall grade of an A while maintaining a C critical grade.