Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Zombeavers (2014): When Horror Comedy is Facile and Expected

Zombeavers (2014)
dir: Jordan Rubin

SIFF 2014 Film #6

All of the problems with Zombeavers stems from it being made for an audience of which I am not part of. The director and co-writer of Zombeavers is Jordan Rubin, who had previously written on The Man Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, and the mid 2000s prank phone call show, Crank Yankers. If you're a fan of these three shows, you'll be in LOVE with Zombeavers as it is made specifically for you. Basically, whatever your stance on The Man Show and Crank Yankers, you'll probably have the same stance toward Zombeavers.

Rubin opens Zombeavers with two truck drivers (Bill Burr and John Mayer) ranting about sex in a masculinist way that also doesn't include homophobia. The opening requisite gay joke was that one guy had a boyfriend that was basically like having another guy friend but with blowjobs before a not panicky "I don't think of you that way" retort. It was kind of funny, and I was all strapped down for something subversive. YAY subverting the gay jokes, lets get see what happens next! The truckers end up hitting a deer, and releasing a barrel of toxic waste into the stream and hitting a beaver dam where it sprays all over. It's Return of the Living Dead Pt 2.

The next part is three nubile co-eds are on vacation at a cousin's cabin in the middle of the woods. There's the blond one who's just been cheated on (the Virgin), the one with glasses whose cousin owns the cabin and is also the organizer of the trip (the Brains), and the other dark-haired one who's really crass and takes her top off at the beach for a full extended sequence of boobies (the Bitch). The original vacation had been for the girls to get with the guys and them to have a big old-fashioned sexy-time weekend when the blonde's boyfriend had a picture taken of him making out with a girl and posted to Facebook.

The three guys make a renegade trip up, including the tall and large Joker who is dating The Bitch, the blond Jock who is dating The Brains, and the cute hairy one who is the Cheater formerly dating The Virgin. They're all trying to make sense of how to get The Cheater and The Virgin back together when they're all attacked by the Zombie Beavers.

The movie then proceeds through many of the usual tropes of Cabin in the Woods movies, and thinks its undermining the formula by having The Brains also be kind of a bitch. Or, having The Bitch be kind of moral. Or, The Cheater be seen as being the sleazy one. It's not that original. It's nice, but it comes way too soon after the formula busting Cabin in the Woods.

When Zombeavers is on, it's hilarious. There are some amazing changes that happen when the people turn, as is required by the Rule of Zombies. Some of the scene inversions are kind of awesome (including a knee to the balls scene), and some of the death scenes are pretty hilarious.

But, about 85% of the movie feels like the type of cheap and easy television humor that was Rubin's bread and butter is not in a movie that has SyFy Original Movie levels of effects. Not to mention, the film spends a lot of time gazing at the women, but not much preening over the men. In fact, there's one scene where it would have been better to have had it played fully naked for the man, but Rubin gives the guy underwear, thus cheapening the effect and making the preceding scene even cheaper.

And, the rest of it is full of masked and not-so-masked references to other films you rather wished you were watching. The formula is strong in this one, and Rubin isn't subverting the formula or using it in a particularly clever way. He's just using it to hang a bunch of jokes on. He does it well enough, but the whole thing is rather easy and facile. The audience I was with seemed to find it hilarious, but I just found myself being all "And...?"

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