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Film4 FrightFest 2012: Dr Karen Oughton reviews COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES!!

Published at: Aug. 24, 2012, 8:38 a.m. CST

 

Gawd blimey, there’s facking zombies everywhere! BOOM! Tricksy editing but no Guy Ritchie in sight. COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES, a hugely anticipated premiere, lurches from B-movie badassness to C-movie crapness to something almost resembling an honest and delightfully funny portrayal of East End folk, in the blink of an eye. It’s more disorientating than a zombie with its head twisted at a highly peculiar angle, but it is huge fun nonetheless. 

 

The film follows two brothers, Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway), and their locksmith cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan) as they bungle a bank robbery aimed at saving their grandfather’s care home from a construction company. The problem is that the careless contractors have accidentally decimated a sealed, BURIAL GROUND-style crypt and it isn’t long before ‘the zoms’ (a fantastic horde of extras) shuffle out to create comically slow chaos.

 

The film is a strange creature. There are some funny sight gags (including a bonkers-brilliant baby moment) and the central premise of the besieged senior’s home actually works surprisingly well as the actors give it their all. Alas, herein also lies the central problem – whether it’s down to character acting or simple inexperience, the film is badly let down by several instances of really awful line delivery as one or two of the cast forget that they should play their situation seriously in order to let the wit of these larger than life characters shine through, rather than simply attempting to mimic the cant/banter. This isn’t just limited to the younger actors, either, as one or two of the older players occasionally appears to struggle with the lines they have been given. This may not actually be their fault as much as that of the script – you watch this film to see the legends show the kids how it’s done and Honour Blackman (Bond girl Pussy Galore) is feisty and powerful enough without having to prove it by swearing. Touches like this feel clunky and wrong and don’t suit the rather charming, realistic edge of the film.

 

Realistic edge, you say? In a zombie film? Yes. What gives this film its punch is the relationship between the central family, which is held together with a frankly marvellous performance from Hardiker as the resourceful, funny and brave but slightly out of his depth Terry. He has wonderful charisma and affects a superb wideboy attitude, posture and all. He is totally believable and his banter is brilliant. Special mention must also go to Michelle Ryan, familiar to most of the English audience as a regular from EASTENDERS. Her comic timing and intonation is fantastic in places. She plays the character as a believably hardened bitch with a heart. In doing this, she does a fab job of stopping Katy the lock-pick from becoming a cheap bazooka(s) babe. 

 

The characters are important considering that the action does get repetitive, with endless gun fights, plucky pensioners and repeated shots of zombies lick-and-sticking on to windows, doors and fences. This is, however, made up for by the overall tone of the film, from the fun (and rather surprising inclusion of The Kaiser Chief’s song “I Predict A Riot”) through to the film’s almost Shakespearean celebration of the old East End.

 

Parts may be imperfect, but its heart is in the right place and I had tears rolling down my face on more than one occasion. Watch out, zoms, the zimmers and their kids are caming ta ge’cha!

 

 

 

Dr Karen Oughton

 

Follow Doc Karen on Twitter 

 

 

Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Cocks versus Pussies

    by UltraTron

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Jerry Nelson died

    by eric haislar

    For those that don't know. He was a original Muppet performer. He performed and voiced Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Dr. Strangepork, Lew Zealand, Robin, Camilla, Uncle Deadly, and The Count.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Oh and

    by eric haislar

    Gobo Fraggle

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 9:01 a.m. CST

    so....is it worth renting?

    by Waka_Flocka

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Isn't one of the pensioners Brick Top?

    by Rendell

    In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary: Come again?

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 12:09 p.m. CST

    My Fair Zombie.

    by Smerdyakov

    Why can't the English teach their zombies how to speak?

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 2:59 p.m. CST

    I saw the ad for this, this afternoon

    by david starling

    And I have to say, it looks like a laugh with a few Courage fizzies and a curry on a Friday night, but not much more. And yes, Bricktop is in it. And Richard Briers, bless him!! All it needs now is Felicity Kendal to sauce it up a bit, and it'll be the Good Life all over again!!

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 4:50 p.m. CST

    This Could Be Good.

    by proper

    However, If Alan Ford Doesn't Survive Then This Film Is Crap, If He Lives It Could Be the Greatest Film Of All Time. GRANDAD MUST LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 1:30 p.m. CST

    i wonder how this compares to juan of the dead

    by Rakesh Patel

    That had rave reviews and i still havent seen it. Good work Doc Nice review.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Horror has just become one long zombie movie.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    Give it a rest, please.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 2:36 a.m. CST

    watched juan of the dead yesterday

    by Rakesh Patel

    It was actually ok, not sure why it was so hyped up by harry, kinda skewed my expectations.. It sounds like a , a rip off of Shaun of the dead and possibly all of guy Ritchie gangster movies. Not a special trip to the cinema for this one, probably a netflix download.