Saturday, 21 September 2013

Review - Cockneys vs Zombies (2012 - Dir. Matthias Hoene)

I wasn't going to review this originally, as you'll have seen from my Letterboxd feature, but I've been pressured into writing one by King Uke (I'm not 100% convinced, but I'm beginning to suspect that he's not a real King). So here we go...

Two brothers decide to commit a bank robbery to raise some cash to stop their granddad's home from being demolished by some unscrupulous property developers. They get a gang of their top mates to help them out including their cousin, Katy (Michelle Ryan). As generally happens, a zombie outbreak occurs causing minor disruption for the bank robbers and the residents of the old people's home. 

Despite being pretty watchable this film sums up a lot of things that I don't like about most modern zombie films:

1. Characters that I don't care about. Now this applies to most horror films too so zombie films aren't on their own in this respect. There was one character in this that I warmed too and that was Emma (Georgia King) who gets taken as a hostage in the bank robbery. The rest of the bunch are so average that I wasn't bothered whether they lived or died. And hearing Michelle Ryan giving it some top swearing action just made me think, "Ooh, you were in Eastenders, and now you're in a feature film and having a good old swear to prove that you've moved on." The big problem being that I thought this every time she swore. Not good for keeping me in the film.

2. Nondescript stories. I wasn't interested in the bank robbery strand in the slightest. Again, it was so average - and I've seen it done so much better - that I switched off. As for the pensioners... how great could that have been? Pensioners vs Zombies. Make it like the episode of One Foot in the Grave when Meldrew discovers abuse in an old people's home and deliver a mixture of comedy and hard-hitting drama. Give the idea more respect than it really deserves. It would be brilliant. But there's no subtlety here. Obvious jokes and pensioners pretending to be Rambo are the order of the day.

3. CGI blood. This is why I didn't want to write this review. I'm sick of writing about CGI blood, never mind seeing it. What's the problem with squirting some fake blood about the place? CGI is great for machines and other items made out of resistant materials. But for people, animals, water and, most importantly, blood, it's pretty useless. I know that these films are R&D for finally perfecting these effects but can't they do it in private and just show us when they've cracked it. I'd be a lot happier. Right, I'll shut up now.

4. Dull zombies. I'll illustrate this point with screen shots. Imagine you're in a perfectly dark room tied to a chair. Then you hear a groan and a shuffling noise. A light flickers on to reveal a zombie in the room with you. Despite knowing that they're actors, which of these would make you mess your little pants and which would make you nonplussed:

5. No atmosphere. Zombies are surely one of the most atmospheric monsters. Vampires? Too romantic. Werewolves? Too hairy. Frankenstein? Too big a forehead. But  zombies with all of their decayed crustiness are perfect for lurking about in the mist, darkness or water and slowly coming into view, revealing a single sickly specimen or an enormous horde. Not many recent films utilise this (The Dead, despite not being that great story-wise, did manage some atmospheric shots) and they're missing out on an important strength of zombies. On reflection, the screen shot below shows that they at least tried, but in the film it passed me by completely. 

6. Mentioning Shaun of the Dead on the front cover.

So there you have it. It's not that it's really bad. It's more that it's bland and oh-so-average. Plus being a thick northerner I could have done with subtitles at points for all of the Cockney banter. Here's a quote for the poster to perfectly sum it up: "Cockneys vs Zombies is alright for watching while you eat your tea." 


  1. Of course I'm a real King evl! Oh dear, oh dear... you really didn't enjoy this film did you! Ha ha. I have to agree with most of your critique. I can only imagine what the review would have been like if you'd really hated it! From one stupid Northerner to another...

    1. Okay, I'm convinced. Have a look at something like Bare Behind Bars or Donkey Punch for a review where I really hate the film. Back to the North soon for a review of Threads...

  2. Wow, now I'm really confused. I've read some very positive reviews of this, and some bad ones. Still can't be as bad as "Gangsters, Guns and ZOmbies"... at least I hope not. I still want to see it... if only to hopefully be able to make fun of it.

    1. It's not good enough to like but it's not bad enough to make fun of it, which is entertaining in itself. I'm still deciding on which zombie films to watch in the final part of the year so "Gangsters, Guns and Zombies" could be a contender. Especially if it's really bad. Thanks for the recommendation. I think.

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