DVD Review: Kill Zombie! (aka Zombibi)
Review by Keri O’Shea
What is it with the whole zombie clown thing? Rare is it that in a film which contains zombies, you don’t get a zombie clown – and yet, like nuns, you just don’t get that many of them about. Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I even saw a clown, yet there’s always one in any given city centre during any given zombie apocalypse. But, it seems like Bozo the Undead has become a zombie movie trope, which is okay, and when you see one, you can get a fair idea that the filmmaker in question knows and enjoys their genre. This is true of Kill Zombie!, a movie which definitely knows what it is and where it stands in a now very busy genre – not just a zombie movie, but a zomcom.
We meet Aziz (Yahya Gaier) after a testing twenty-four hours. Aziz had a job where he had to wear a suit, and he worked in a generic Amsterdam office role which had little to recommend it. When he was asked out by the lovely Tess, his day perked up, sure, but then this was counterbalanced by getting fired, thanks to all the phonecalls he kept getting at work from his party animal brother Mo (Mimoun Ouled Radi). Oh well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – so Aziz left the office and headed over to join his brother at a pool party. Shame a fight soon broke out and got the brothers, plus the people they were scrapping with, locked up.
And then a Russian space station fell on the city. This brings us up to speed with Aziz’s current situation.
As we all know, outside of children’s films at least, it’s so rare that we can rightly say it’s impossible that anything falls out of space and makes things on Earth any nicer. In this case, at least the event causes the cell doors to open, and our unlikely group can try to figure out what to do, now that the entire place is filled with walking dead.
In his recent review of Brit zomcom Cockneys vs Zombies, our very own Tristan said, ‘the major problem with a film like Cockneys vs Zombies, or indeed any other British horror comedy, is Shaun of the Dead – a film so perfectly pitched and massively popular that anything else is going to look rather lacking in comparison.’ I’d agree with that, and be inclined to extend what he’s said to outside the UK: the success of Shaun of the Dead has spawned a whole generation of these types of movies worldwide. I won’t say that SOTD was the first funny zombie movie of course, but in recent years it’s been the best, and so in allowing a lot of zomcoms to be made, it’s still in there as the gold standard. For filmmakers following in its wake, this makes things a bit tricky, but perhaps the safest approach has been to make peace with the basic SOTD formula and allow your own film to just throw a few extras in there for good measure. It worked really well for Juan of the Dead and it seems to be what directorial team Martijn Smits and Erwin Ven Den Eshof have gone for here. You’ll recognise a few of the same motifs: the male leads, one daft, one serious, for instance; you’ll also recognise a few of the gags. Where Kill Zombie! goes off on its own is really in the level of blood and guts slapstick it employs.
And there is lots of daft physical humour and slapstick here; okay, it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s pretty universal, and when combined with novel dispatch methods for zombies, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Take a group of people all occasionally pratfalling and then pitch their ineptitude against the walking dead and, voilà! You never knew a man holding a wooden stool could make you laugh. And, to be fair, there were a few moments here when I did, as the kids say, LOL. Kill Zombie! has some well-pitched comedy moments, and the actors are more than capable of being funny. Still, in its mission to be over-the-top, a few of the scenes tested my patience; I hope I’m not spoilering it for anyone when I say there’s a bit which plays out like a game of Street Fighter and that was a bit too wry for me.
Still, what’s important is that Kill Zombie! doesn’t slack off. Just because it isn’t a landmark movie, which it knows, it doesn’t just go through the motions. It takes some of the tropes, like the panicked TV news bulletin, and plays with them; we might be fairly placed to predict what’ll be said, but how it’s said is still funny (“I thought that was the weather girl walking in…but that doesn’t sound like her…”) It also goes the extra mile in terms of splatter (even though some of it is rather sloppy CGI) and it throws in some inventive kills, making the most of a fairly extensive cast of extras. Its lead characters are likeable, and the relationship between the two brothers manages to be sweet and believable (and, although the artwork on my press release is only at the ‘to be confirmed’ phase at the moment, both brothers should definitely be on the cover, in my humble opinion, rather than giving centre-stage to ass-kicking cop Gigi Ravelli, as lovely as she is.)
But, I find myself going back to that film again, because how much you’ll get out of this movie depends very much on how your tolerance for the modern zomcom is bearing up these days. Personally I thought Kill Zombie! was decent. It was lively rather than lazy, moved along at a good pace, and didn’t just go through the motions. It won’t change your life, sure, but it’s still worthwhile. If you still have time for this sort of thing, of course…
Kill Zombie! will be released by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment on 17th September.