Monday, 26 October 2015

Film Review - 'Zombeavers'

The basic set-up for Zombeavers is actually very simple. Three young college students ditch their boyfriends to spend a weekend together at a secluded cabin by a lake - while the film-makers happily embrace the cliched nature of it all. At the same time, though, a lost barrel of toxic waste rolls into that same lake - slowly making its way to a beaver's nest, where it turns the harmless animals into savage and carnivorous mutant zombie creatures.

The young women are, naturally, entirely unaware of this, though. They are much more concerned with the fact they have been tricked into going somewhere where their mobile phones can't pick up a signal, and with the brief encounter that they have with a creepy hunter - and, finally, with the fact that their boyfriends seem to have decided to follow them out to the cabin, anyway, despite not being invited.

Eventually, though, the mutated creatures emerge from the lake. Looking for food, and finding a cabin full of pretty young people conveniently close by, the zombie beavers launch an attack. So, now, the group is forced to fight for their lives against this horde of mutant zombies - hoping to survive long enough to make their escape. There really isn't much more to the plot than that, to be honest. Sure, there's some relationship drama going on here, as well - but, that's not the sort of thing you're looking for when you watch a movie called Zombeavers, is it?

It should be fairly obvious what sort of film the people behind Zombeavers were trying to make, here. With its ridiculous title, backed up by an equally ridiculous premise, and its cheap and cheerful production values, it's pretty clear that they weren't exactly aiming for quality. Instead, it seems as though the film-makers were quite content with simply making what they hoped would turn out to be an entertaining B-movie. It's another example of that wonderfully odd mix of 'horror' and 'comedy' which is clearly intended to entertain the audience, rather than scare them (you can probably make a fairly convincing argument, after all, that no mix of 'horror' and 'comedy' is ever likely to successfully scare an audience, anyway - since, the horror is always going to be undermined by the comedy).

To be fair, there are moments throughout where this works out rather well, too. The opening scene, for example, sets the bar pretty high with some banter between two truck drivers responsible for transporting the toxic waste which - but, unfortunately, while the crude humour in this brief scene is genuinely funny, the rest of the film never quite manages to reach the same level. Similarly, the supporting cast that appear around the young college students are entertaining - but, they're given too little focus.

The zombie beavers, themselves, are an entertaining creation, though - with their crude puppet-work managing to strike a good balance between looking completely ridiculous (because, they're beavers), while still being at least somewhat plausible as 'film monsters'. They weren't ever going to be the most frightening creature ever put on screen, sure - but, the film was definitely at its most entertaining whenever they appeared. Also, the song which plays over the film's closing credits is fantastic. It is, basically, a recap of the film's absurd plot sung in the crooner style of Frank Sinatra - and, it's fantastic. If the rest of the film had been made with that same level of creativity, then it could have been something genuinely entertaining.

Unfortunately, the film's weakest element is also its most important - the group of college students who serve as the film's core cast. Not only were the characters, themselves, often incredibly difficult to like (with the most tolerable ones only just managing to come across as kind of bland, and the worst of them seeming to exist as crude stereotypes), but the actors playing those parts often looked and sounded a little bored - like they weren't entirely willing to commit themselves to the absurd little film that they signed up for. There's no way of knowing whether this was due to a lack of talent on the cast's part, or if they were simply not giving enough direction to bring out a decent performance. Either way, though, the end result is the same - whenever they were on screen (as they were for much of the film), the entire film seemed to grind to a halt. And, that's really the main problem with Zombeavers.

A film about mutant zombie beavers (of all things), complete with all the fake blood you could possibly want and a truly impressive amount of crude sexual humour (including the obvious 'beaver' jokes, of course), really has no business being as dull as this film often is. There's just no excuse for it. Zombeavers was obviously never going to be a 'good' film, in the usual sense - but, it should have been an entertaining one, at least.

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