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June 24, 2015

Cockneys vs Zombies

by Franz Patrick


Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

Brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) decide to rob a bank in order to prevent their grandfather (Alan Ford) from losing his retirement home. The big day happens to coincide with two construction workers unearthing a tomb. Inside houses hundreds of skulls. One of the skeletons moves and a takes a bite out of the men. Soon, the East End of London is teeming with the infected and Andy, Terry, and their mates must fight for their lives.

“Cockneys vs Zombies,” directed by Matthias Hoene, is not the second coming of “Shaun of the Dead” despite the two having about a half a dozen similarities. What the former lacks is an infectious verve, a feeling that it might be fun or exciting to wake up one day and discover that the dead can come back to life. The amusing lines are in the script but not the sense of adventure in order for it to stand above the rest.

At times the picture is very funny. I enjoyed that the characters have seen zombie movies and so they know precisely what to do when encountering the undead. But there are also jokes outside of the self-awareness. A standout scene involves the robbers walking into the bank dressed up as construction workers. However, the irony in the situation does not last for long. One of the characters is too trigger-happy but far from interesting. I could not wait for him to get bitten.

Part of the problem is we are never given a chance to believe that the characters are in danger. First, there is far too many of them for too long. The camera moves around consistently and so the tension fails to build. The zombies are slower and weaker than usual. I suppose that aspect is redeemed a little bit by a race between a zombie and an older person on a walker. Still, that is one wink out of the many painfully standard chases.

Someone should have told the screenwriters, James Moran and Lucas Roche, that it is a no-no to give characters in a survival picture unlimited supply of guns. Since everyone has a weapon, it comes down to pointing and shooting. It looks like just about everybody is a great shot. Aside from certain frames shot in slow motion, the filmmakers fail to command the material when bullets fly. In fact, the whole thing turns into a bore.

The film had a chance to make a statement and I was at a loss on why it did not. There is a recurring theme about the working class getting the short end of the stick, from the construction workers who stumble upon the underground graveyard to the brothers who mean well but often get into trouble. It is very disappointing that the writers actually made the decision to vacuum out the flavor from a horror-comedy with something to say about the working class and what it means for them to fight and survive.

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