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Xavierpop Does @TADFilmFest – Ariel Ranks The Refreshing ‘Cockneys vs Zombies’ Right Up There With ‘Shaun Of The Dead’

Horror comedies, let alone zom-coms, tend to be hit and miss. The balance between the elements – horror, action, comedy, and human drama – often times gets muddled, losing its potency. Cockneys vs Zombies is no such sad sack, packing a punch from the first ten minutes and then keeping that feverish pace moving, and with a stellar cast along for the ride.

One of the most refreshing elements of the film is the pace. No steady buildup, and no subtext or additive plot to worry about. There is no underlying romance, or personal demons being fought off. This is just a movie about some badass Cockneys fighting for survival in the East End of London, now overrun with the undead because of an accidentally unleashed plague.

Its the writing that sets film apart.

Excellently written comedy in equal measure with the necessary Zombie jumps, gore, and action give it the balls it needs to win over its audience. And it’s no wonder, with James Moran at the helm, co-writer of the Deliverance meets Office Space horror comedy Severance (2006). Alongside new scribe Lucas Roche, and with director Matthias Hoene’s natural flare for filmmaking (this is his first feature length film,) they’ve created a memorable zom-com the likes of which could dethrone Shaun of the Dead (2004.)

Clearly inspired by Shaun’s mix of zombies, horror pastiche, and comedic timing, Cockneys simply takes it to the next level. It gets to the point off the bat, and even supplies us with a clear cause. In turn, there’s no time wasted on establishing an origin of the virus, you simply accept it. And, for the kill shot fans, there are ample creative zombie deaths to be enjoyed. This film does not lack for imaginative gore, so you won’t be left wanting.

With cast members the likes of Alan Ford (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger) blended with young bloods Michelle Ryan (EastEnders,) Rasmus Hardiker (Your Highness,) and Harry Treadaway (Control,) it feels as though this were the love child of Snatch and Shaun of the Dead.

Ryan is the perfect femme fatale, who knows how to wield a gun and Katana, pick locks, hotwire cars, and all while keeping her clothes on. A refreshing change! She’s the toughest character next to her Granddad (Ford) and gives just about every other male a run for their money.  There’s no question about who’s in charge – she leads the siege on the old folks’ home to rescue her family, as her bumbling cousins can’t manage simple tasks.

Hardiker and Treadaway, playing tweedledee and tweeldedum fraternal thieves, are a riot. With excellent chemistry, and some great one-liners, these bumbling idiots helped keep the audience in stitches. Hapless halfwits, they start off the film by bungling their simple attempt at armed robbery at the beginning of the film – an attempt to corral enough money to save their Granddad’s retirement home from being demolished and replaced with a high-rise. Their characters, central to the film, propel the plot with such face-palm laden delight, it’s impossible not to love them. Their flawed judgment and gift for screwing up even the simplest of tasks endears them to the audience, making you root for them all the more.

In spite of such scene-stealing performances, no one dominates the screen quite like Ford, Blackman, and their geriatric gang of misfits.  Watching Brick Top himself go medieval on the undead is an indescribable treat. That he has a Bond girl at his side, able to wield a machine-gun with equal bravado and zeal, is the cherry on top of a deliciously bloody Sundae.

Restoring the slow zombie to its former glory, Matthias and his team crafted some of the best attack scenes I’ve seen in a long time. With one of the funniest chase scenes, a walker-wielding Richard Briers (Much Ado About Nothing) narrowly escapes the hoards of zombie attackers moving at much the same pace as he does. Bringing back the Slow-Walkers is what makes a geriatric cast so much more effective. With artificial limbs, and replacement hips, they move at much the same pace as their attackers, giving them an upper hand at survival. Instead of the tragedy that would have ensued in a 28 Days Later universe, where the zombies move at breakneck speed, we’re given the privilege of watching Blackman fend off zombies with a mallet, and Tony Selby bludgeon them with his artificial leg.

Moving a mile a minute, and not wasting time on subplot of disbelief, this zombie apocalypse hits hard. More comedy than horror, you’ll be cheering at the screen, and rolling in the aisles. With some of the funniest zombie kills I’ve ever seen, stellar writing, and an excellent cast, Hoene’s created a real gem.