FrightFest Patrick Gamble

FrightFest 2012: ‘Cockneys vs Zombies’ review

★★★☆☆

Matthias Hoene’s zomventure (he dislikes the phrase ‘Zomody’), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) has the kind of moniker you’d expect to discover whilst rummaging through the bargain bin in a petrol station. Yet whilst this remark may not be entirely inappropriate – Hoene’s homage to London’s East End is undeniably cheap and tacky – behind its unabashed plagiarism lies a thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly unpretentious slice of home-grown entertainment.

Originating as a web series, Hoene has developed his ideas into a fully-fledged feature film that observes a group of dimwitted East End bank robbers as they find themselves under siege from the living dead. Their priorities change dramatically from completing their idiotic heist to rescuing the inhabitants of their grandfather’s old age home – the venue that undeniably boasts the film’s strongest comedic scenes. However, the real difficulty comes in transporting this group of lifelong EastEnders to freedom and away from the flesh hungry horde of zombies whose tastes are not perturbed by the ageing bodies of these vivacious OAPs.

The only perceivable way Hoene’s tragically unimaginative comedy could work is for it to not only be aware of its over-saturated genre but embrace it with an appropriately ‘cocky’ sense of disregard – a facet made abundantly clear through its incredibly derivative approach. Using the familiarity of the genre, Hoene has created an ‘Only Fools and Zombies’ for a contemporary audience well-versed in classic British comedy techniques.

Indeed, it’s the intelligent and incredibly British jokes that comprise Cockneys vs Zombies’ script, which manages to breath new life into this flailing sub-genre. From the film’s employment of distinguishable forms of classic British transport to a amusing play on London’s vicious football hooligans, Hoene’s film is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek story which demands to be enjoyed on the lowest possible level. It’s very much a piece of mindless escapism for those well educated in not just the horror genre but British comedy throughout the ages.

There’s no ignoring Hoene’s heavy-handed, satirical stab towards the rejuvenation/cultural cleansing of East London for the London 2012 Olympics, however such a loaded metaphor is superseded by such a hugely enjoyable approach to the subject matter at hand. Lacking in any tangible substance and riddled with cheap fight scenes and an abhorrently wooden script, Cockneys vs Zombies is a terrible film that just so happens to be terribly entertaining.

From 23-27 August, CineVue will be reporting back from this year’s Film4 FrightFest with a bucket-load of gruesome reviews. For more of our festival coverage, simply follow this link.

Patrick Gamble

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