Sunday, 28 October 2012

Film Review | Cockneys Vs Zombies (2012)

The track record of films with exploitative, high concept titles - especially ones with "Vs" in them - is woefully poor. On that basis, Cockneys Vs Zombies is far better than it has any right to be.

After a centuries-old sealed crypt is unearthed and opened in the middle of a construction site in East London, zombies quickly spread across the East End. Caught up in the middle of this are brothers Andy and Terry Maguire (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) who just happen to be in the middle of a bank robbery when the zombie infestation spreads. Elsewhere in the East End, the brothers' grandfather Ray (Alan Ford) is holed up in a retirement home, working together with his fellow OAPs to survive the undead hordes.

The film has some unmistakable influences - most obviously Shaun Of The Dead, but also quite prominently the work of Guy Ritchie, as well as recent urban horror mash-up Attack The Block - but admirably manages to create something different enough to make the whole thing feel worthwhile. A realistic portrayal of East End London which shuns stereotypes this is not; neither is it a damning indictment of youth culture. The brothers' reasons for carrying out their robbery, whilst not making their actions acceptable, mean that we can at least identify with them and want them to survive the undead uprising going on around them.

Whilst Cockneys Vs Zombies has clearly been made on a relatively small budget, director Matthias Hoene does well for the most part to disguise this through well-conceived effects and creative choices. There are admittedly some points where this feels like a made-for-TV special, especially near the start, but this quickly subsides once the zombies arrive proper. The cast do well as a collective, and with the likes of Richard Briers and Honor Blackman adding some serious weight on the older end of the scale, the enjoyment factor is quickly bumped up a few notches more.

The film's focus primarily is on horror and action, both of which it entertainingly tackles with aplomb whilst providing several ingenious ways of dispatching the zombies. The film finds mixed success when attempting anything more sentimental or emotional, veering a little too much towards cheesiness or simply lacking in development in some instances. The comedic offerings here however are much more successful, with a few genuinely laugh-out-loud sequences, including surely one of the slowest action sequences of all time which involves Briers attempting to escape the pursuing undead equipped with a zimmer frame. Like its superior forefather Shaun Of The Dead, the humour is both proud and precise in its Britishness.

At a swift eighty-five minutes in length, Cockneys Vs Zombies provides a pleasing blend of firepower, gore and humour which entertains consistently without outstaying its welcome. The bigger names of yesteryear give proceedings the extra clout to make this more than just a throwaway genre mash-up. Whilst it never reaches the heights of Wright and Pegg's rom-com-zom masterpiece, this is an enjoyable film with great potential to become a future well-loved cult classic.


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