Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Cinema File #146: "A Little Bit Zombie" Review


No Donnie and Marie jokes, I promise.

In my review for the zombie romcom Warm Bodies, I lamented the fact that in order to tell that unconventional love story, the essential thing that made zombies scary and cool had to be sacrificed. My argument then and now is that presenting a zombie that retains or regains their humanity defeats the purpose of a zombie, because to be a zombie is to be a cruel parody of the human condition. Recently, I watched a straight to DVD horror comedy called A Little Bit Zombie, which features a creature explicitly classified as a  zombie-human hybrid, and despite some glaring flaws, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Am I just a huge, shameless hypocrite? In context I'd say no, but you be the judge.




The story follows a soon to be wed HR manager who finds himself infected with a mutated strain of a traditional zombie virus after being bitten by a mosquito whose last meal happened to be undead. As a result, our main character remains human psychologically for the most part, save for an escalating craving for human brains, but slowly becomes more and more zombie-like physically, losing sensation in his body, losing pieces of himself, and gaining heightened senses related to hunting humans. I found this approach somewhat novel even as I felt the film clearly tries to have its cake and eat it too, giving us a new spin on zombie tropes from the perspective of a sympathetic undead creature, while keeping the theme of losing one's humanity, just at a much slower pace.


The comedy is much more broad and over the top than Warm Bodies, and at no point is there any threat of actual terror, as even the real zombies we see are dispatched fairly easily. I'm tempted to give Warm Bodies the edge for at least trying to build tension and display some scary zombie action, but for me a consistent tone is worth more, so this film's much lighter take on the genre is more satisfying. That being said, the first ten minutes pushes the limits of "over the top" to the point where I almost turned off the movie. Though they all eventually settle into their roles, our four main leads start out trying way too hard, playing characters that are at least at the outset very stock and bland. We get the OCD Bridezilla and the Henpecked Boyfriend, and then the Dour Indie Chick and the Stifler-esque Best Friend, and the opening scene driving to the main cabin set piece is practically excruciating to watch.


I can pinpoint the exact moment in the movie where my concerns about the overly madcap performances faded away and I was able to enjoy the film for what it was, and strangely enough, it involves a close up of a man's ballsack. The night after he's bit, our hero has his first dream as a would-be zombie, his subconscious translating his newly growing lust for brains as a series of puns, culminating in the Stifler-esque guy flashing his "Brain," and then the rest of the cast drinking out of a woman's head with straws like that freaky nightmare Data had in that TNG episode. Its a scene that comes out of nowhere and fits with nothing else previously in the movie, and luckily the rest of the film continues down this rabbit hole of unapologetic weirdness for the next hour or so.


There's a really great morbid silliness to the whole thing as this group quickly discovers what is happening to their friend and resolves to help him deal with his new dietary restriction however they can, going so far as to try and lure victims to him, picking out people who deserve to die (like rapists or hipsters). The escalating craziness comes to a head with two zombie hunters played by Stephen McHattie and Kristen Hager (of Witchslayer Gretl fame), who wish to kill and cure this new zombie man respectively, and it all ends in an insane series of calamities as the two story threads converge that left me laughing out loud even as I was a little disappointed in just how sudden and abrupt it all was. I can't say its really resolved, as much as it just sort of ends, but at the same time, I'm not sure I would have been happy with any of the endings they could have feasibly went with.


Overall, I think A Little Bit Zombie is well worth your time, and if it sounds interesting at all from how I'm describing it, chances are you'll get a kick out of it. Its on Netflix Streaming as of this writing, so I'd definitely recommend checking it out at some point.
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