If you’re a fan of amusing undead decapitations and bucket-loads of guts and gore, then up-and-coming director Matthias Hoene’s cheap and cheerful Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) will provide around about the same amount of entertainment as a decent game of Monopoly. On the other hand, if the mere mention of a zombie movie induces you to vomit in disgust and you’re of the belief that far too many filmmakers seem rabidly intent on flogging a dead corpse rather than producing something original, you’d better shuffle those ‘Chance’ cards and think about putting a hotel on Mayfair.
London-centric film seems to be all the rage in this Olympic year, with the likes of Tower Block (2012) and Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill (2011) all receiving a decent amount of press. However, the great British tradition of over-hyping home grown products has sadly not yet led to an increase in box office receipts. Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block (2011), for example, which was given excessive amounts of airtime and column inches, bombed at the box office. Hoene’s Cockneys vs Zombies also went down like a lead balloon at the cinema (despite a Film4 FrightFest premiere a week before), but will almost undoubtedly find an audience on DVD and Blu-ray.
The film certainly has its moments, and Hoene provides us with plenty of gruesomely inventive ways of disposing with the undead. Fans of Family Guy will also find mirth in the flash comic asides and the attempt at social commentary with regard to the gentrification of the East End due to the 2012 Games is noble enough. Unfortunately, however, Cockneys vs Zombies numerous negatives do outweigh the occasional positive. Seeing a shuffling flesh-eater being stabbed in the face with a lamp by Honor Blackman is undeniably amusing, but the carnage quickly becomes tedious. It’s all just a bit average, and despite the odd the spark of originality, you’ll feel like you’ve seen it all before and seen it done better.
You get the impression that the likes of Cockneys vs Zombies and Attack the Block were given the green light because the industry is still looking (understandably) for the next Shaun of The Dead (2004). Shaun… was a low budget horror comedy that made millions and received plenty of critical acclaim, but it’s wrong to regard it as the idol all other British genre films should aspire to. Our film industry is capable of better, and there are plenty of talented writers and directors out there who have something original to offer.