Another X vs Y movie, this East End set zom-com at least charms with its slick production and a decent zing quotient.
Cockney vs Zombies sets up its stall as a mix of comedy shenanigans and gorehound splatter theatrics, telling a story about how the East End of London and its salt-of-the-Earth denizens are set-upon by and army of the living dead. It clearly and sincerely believes, too, the concept on which the whole thing rests is an absolute corker.
The horror comedy is a notoriously difficult beast to wrestle because sacrificing the fear factor for belly laughs rarely makes for a satisfying balance. The zombie hordes which feature here figure very much like in a button bashing video game: obstacles to destroy in as many comically gruesome ways as possible. Yet the lack of both emotion and terror nullifies what made the walking dead so interesting in the first place.
Whilst boasting the odd fun moment – sweet Richard Briers mowing down flesh eaters with an Uzi attached to his Zimmer being one of them – things get tiresome pretty quickly.
Matthias Hoene’s film wants to be an entertaining lark and simple genre pleasure, but all the slick visuals and OTT gags in the world can’t lift the material.
Rent-a-Cockney Alan Ford snarls and spits out some, ahem, choice language (as he pretty much does in every film he’s appeared in). And his permanent sour face and rally cry, ‘Oi, zombies. Get the fuck out of my East End’, does have a certain charm. Co-star Dudley Sutton, whose use of rhyming slang is so bizarre even his fellow Cockneys don’t understand him, is another small highlight.
The screenwriters' attempt to inject Romero style social commentary into the proceedings, with the walking corpses standing in as a metaphor for the gentrification of traditional working class areas. Instead of bringing it to the fore, the idea quickly vanishes, and onwards we go with the simpler pleasure of on-screen claret spillage.
As the title suggests, the jokes are broad as can be, with a script that plunders all the clichés known to humankind about the humble East Ender. Yet, the scattershot nature of the humour means that several set pieces miss the funny bone entirely and end up burying a hatchet into the face of comedy. A ruck between football hooligans – all now slathering zomboids – is so spectacularly ill-judged it becomes the cinematic equivalent of tumbleweed.
What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a Cockney?
The living dead are no match for Briers, Ford and Sutton
This subgenre is as tired as a walking corpse – with or without Cockneys