Saturday, February 1, 2014

London Underground

Year: 2012
Director: Matthias Hoene
Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan
Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: N/A

Way back when when I first saw the trailer for Cockneys vs. Zombies before 100 Bloody Acres, I knew it was my destiny to see this film. An indie British zombie comedy with a funny title? And it came out on my birthday? How perfect is that?

It turns out I never got around to it. My birthday weekend was far too busy to drive all the way down to L.A. multiple times (I was already down there to watch my beloved In A World...) and it slipped through the cracks. Thank goodness it did, because it's a pretty crappy movie. I really should learn to stop trusting the Brits with low budget zombie mayhem.

Sure this is the country that brought us the classics 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead, but their indie scene is that which brought us such cinematic defecation as Zombie Diaries and its illegitimate brother Zombie Diaries 2: World of the Dead, one of the top ten worst movies I've ever seen, and not in the fun way.

I know I've said this before, but come on! A seven minute rape scene that aims at ribald comedy rather than hard-hitting body horror? That could only work (and at that barely) under the hand of an exquisitely talented director, something which the film patently did not have.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah.

Cockneys vs. Zombies takes place in London's East End during a zombie outbreak caused by a construction crew's discovery of an underground cave network filled with Cryptkeepers. Or... something. It's not really explained, but with a genre film of this caliber, does it really need to be? At least there's not as much exposition to sit through before half of London is emptied of living inhabitants.

The film opens strong with a gross jaw-ripping scene and some great retro credits, but quickly peters out after a lively introduction to Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway), two argumentative brothers who are trying to keep their Granddad (Alan Ford)'s old folks home from being torn down.

Although the first five minutes are packed with wry British comic moments that absolutely land, one gets the sense that the filmmakers decided to make a movie on the strength of five great scene ideas, but could never quite figure out what to do with the remaining 70 minutes. Although the bulk of the first act has a smattering of humor, the next discernible joke won't occur for a good third of the film.

Anyway, Andy is the hot one (well, hot for this budget) and always gets his brother into trouble. This time around the trouble is a bank robbery to attain enough funds to save the elderly home. 

Not that they need help.

Once the outbreak hits, we cut between two intriguing setups. There's the potential zombie movie drama of a bank heist crew with hostages dealing with interpersonal tensions and misplaced post apocalyptic priorities. And there's the grand possibilities for camp humor with the boarded up Cockney octogenarians fighting the undead.

Between these two disparate situations, the film makes rapid shifts in tone that seem lively and slick at first but it ends up getting dizzy, toppling over, and lying gasping in a pool of its own sick. The conflict of horror and humor proves too much for the film and for the bulk of the middle third it ends up having neither at all.

The gore budget is wasted in the first scene, leaving us with dry and humorless gore for the rest of the time. The ending manages to pick up a lot of slack but goes a good ten minutes longer than it should with two false endings, each capped with the exact same dull joke.

Sam Raimi this ain't.

Not to disparage the humor entirely. This is a British production, after all. But the humor is of a contextless sort that I'd rather find on YouTube in short bursts than have to sit through this entire movie to get at. Honestly, if you want to have a good laugh, just watch the trailer. Apparently we Yanks aren't the only ones who put all the good bits in the previews.

Anyway, it's alright. I wouldn't mind if nobody ever saw it, but it doesn't make me regret the hour and a half I spent hanging out with Sergio watching a dumb zombie movie. Also it was my revenge for him making me sit through the entirety of The Help. Not that it wasn't good or anything, I just have an aversion to movies longer than 105 minutes on principle.

So at least it was short. And hey, there were no rape scenes.

TL;DR: Cockneys vs. Zombies has a few beads of hilarious comedy sequences strung together with a weak string of shallow events.
Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 829


  1. OMG, I'm watching this now!!!! Will be back later to read the whole post spoiler-free. :D

  2. I'm gonna check this one out pretty soon, I just picked it up last week. Great review, and I especially appreciate the jabs at Zombie DIaries and the uncomfortably long rape scenes.

    Holy Hell I hate those movies.