This one was oh, so close. A tribute to London’s East End, that also acts as a quasi homage to both Shaun of the Dead and the works of Guy Ritchie, Cockneys vs Zombies is a film that just fell short of living up to its premise. That premise is: a bunch of East Enders with a unique grip on the English language suddenly find themselves in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
Directed by Matthias Hoene, Cockneys vs Zombies follows Andy and Terry MacGuire (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker, respectively), two working class brothers whose grandfather, Ray (Alan Ford), is a resident in a pensioners home in the East End. There’s a lot of real estate development happening in the area, and Ray’s home is soon to be torn down to make way for luxury condominiums. Because of dire financial straits, Ray will have to move to the north of the country, away from the neighborhood he has known all his life. How depressing.
But, the Brothers MacGuire have a plan. Enlisting the help of their cousin, Katy (Michelle Ryan), a friend with the wonderfully colloquial name Tuppence (Jack Doolan), and the psychotic Mental Mickey (Ashley Bashy Thomas), they scheme to rob a bank and come away with enough money to provide for their grandfather.
Up until this point, with only minimal interruption, the film appears to be about a group of bumbling, amateur criminals. Honestly, it could have stayed this way and it wouldn’t have been diminished. But, the trailer promised audiences Cockney accents, lots of bad language, zombies, and gore. Only the last two still need to be fulfilled, and so the apocalypse begins in the middle of the bank robbery.
Meanwhile, back at the old folks home, the zombies have descended, and the geezers have to barricade themselves in the kitchen. The remainder of the film is the two groups, inept robbers and pensioners, trying to reunite and survive.
The story is fairly rote and predictable, but that doesn’t matter. Cockneys vs Zombies is a comedy, after all. Plot is just something that happens in between the jokes. In that, the film hits some notes here and there, and never falls completely flat, but it’s a comedy that spent most of its juice in the idea and not the execution. Additionally, it’s just not very well made. The cast is game, and they do a decent job, but the film feels like a series of first takes strung together. And the score was cheap synthesizer music that would be more at home in the type of 1990s b-movie they used to show on Cinemax late at night. You know the ones. They usually involved Shannon Tweed and some extended nude scenes. For any of my Loyal Seven readers too young to remember, this is what teenagers used to watch before there was such a thing as internet porn.
Anyway, the score in this film was so bad that it brought me back to late nights with Shannon Tweed’s tits. In my book, that’s bad execution.
Watching Cockneys swear and bash their way through hordes of zombies should have been the funniest thing I’ve seen on screen in years, but it’s not. Rather, it is a textbook case of mediocrity. It neither shines, nor offends. It just is.