Having clenched it’s jaws upon the festival circuit to predominantly tasty reviews, Cockneys vs Zombies has now infected retail stores across the U.K. From James Moran (Severance) and new scribe Lucas Roche, comes the latest Brit flick to attempt the delicate balancing act between horror and comedy without falling into the pitfalls of slapstick humour, bad jokes and cheap scare tactics.
After a brief introduction with a construction company who unearth a sealed tomb; only to unleash a zombie outbreak upon London’s East End, we meet incompetent geezer brothers Terry and Andy Mcguire, played by Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway respectfully.
Our two brothers are in a pickle; the local care home is about to be knocked down, thus evicting their Grandad (played by Guy Ritchie alumni Alan Ford) from his beloved East End, and transferring him to a facility up North in Bradford. Naturally, Terry and Andy are pretty upset, so being the Cockney geezers that they think they are, they decide to raise funds for keeping Grandad in London. How? By recruiting their locksmith cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan), bumbling stickup man Davey Tuppance (Jack Doolan) and the neighbourhood bully Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas), in order to pull off a bank heist. Despite a few glitches, the robbery goes to plan, but judging by the horde of flesh hungry, walking corpses outside the bank, the escape isn’t going to be as easy. The brothers conceive a new plan; fight their way across the zombie occupied East End of London and rescue their pent up Grandad and his fellow pensioners from the care home, which is also surrounded by the living dead.
So, how does this compare to previous Brit victories such as Dog Soldiers and Shaun of the Dead? Well, it’s a different vehicle altogether. Whereas the former used dialogue as a vehicle for clever jokes and sharp one liners, and the latter being the source of some very dark humour, Cockneys vs Zombies exploits a stereotype. There’s nothing wrong with that, I mean the film’s title is a dead giveaway that, first and foremost, you’ll be sitting down to a tongue in cheek exploitation film. Yes, it’s a cockney exploitation film with zombies, or a zombie “cocksploitation” flick, if you will. At times it works wonderfully. One great scene in particular has a pensioner use cockney slang to rhyme the words ‘trafalgers’ and ‘zombies’. After a while though, the one track dialogue runs a bit thin, and although it may be sufficient for an international audience, it doesn’t measure up to the standards set by ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ or ‘Snatch’ in terms of creativity.
Still, dialogue isn’t everything, and there’s some pretty solid performances from the entire cast. The shotgun toting Mental Mickey is always a pleasure, and former soap actress Michelle Ryan will have fanboys steaming. The plot follows a slick A to B to C structure, and the pace of the action keeps the story moving at a good pace.
All in all, Director Matthias Hoene delivers a genre movie that keeps the three G’s covered: guns, girls and gore. It claws at originality by giving us a hybrid of ‘Return of the Living Dead’ by way of Guy Ritchie, but fails to tread over fresh ground. Regardless, the dedicated cast, slick visuals and gun toting pensioners certainly made it worth my while.