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A Little Bit Zombie (2012)

by on 2012/10/04

“I’m a zombie. I’m a goddamn zombie.
Tina’s going to kill me.”

* * * *

Let me get two things out of the way right off. First, I hate the poster (and thus cover) of A Little Bit Zombie. It made me not want to see the movie it advertised. Second, when I finally did see it, I enjoyed it so much more than Shaun of the Dead.

(Yeah, yeah, geek heresy. Whatever.)

Set in cottage country, Ontario, a clearly-doomed young couple — he (Kristopher Turner) a wholesome HR nerd, she (Crystal Lowe) a prissy bridezilla — plan their wedding over a weekend with their best man (Shawn Roberts) and matron of honour (Kristen Hager). Their interpersonal dysfunctions are less irritating than entertaining, less a source of conflict than complication.

The real conflict arrives courtesy of a mosquito, which promptly infects the groom-to-be with . . . zombiism? Even if he can escape being dispatched by a pair of nomadic hunters (Emilie Ullerup and A History of Violence’s Stephen McHattie), his fiancee may just do him in for threatening her plans.

Here is an unusual approach, from the zombie’s point of view. In this case he retains his intellect, and gains a “dietary restriction”. His story is original and funny, rarely puts a step wrong, and never flags in its pacing. If only it didn’t end so soon, and so suddenly. (A photo essay throughout the end credits helps save it, fortunately.)

And better, I suppose, to be left wanting more than to long for it all to be done.

Ironically, it’s punctuated with the kind of jokes I’d normally dislike . . . bodily functions, toilet humour, and some really odd nudity. Yet some of those very tendencies were employed in interesting ways, including a catfight, a joke about drooling, and a jaw-dropping vomit scene.

The filmmakers didn’t just mine cheap gags unexpectedly, they also approached the zombie experience in ways which (to my knowledge) were so obvious, so intuitively right, I wondered why I hadn’t seen them before. For instance, watch for the black-and-white sequence interpreting how a victim is indoctrinated into their new, uh, life.

Interesting yes but, production-wise, not absolutely perfect. The makeup is, shall we say, lacking, and the colour’s been timed into a washed-out grey. For all the story’s goofiness and the dynamic shooting and editing, the palette seemed too dull to match their spark. I know it’s low budget, but wouldn’t colour timing have cost extra? Why waste the money on bad contrast?

Let’s get back to what works, however. I’m inclined to be generous, especially when there is so much to appreciate: the mosquito’s-eye-view perspective, the suiting-up scene, the slam-wipe transition on a doorway, the cheesy montage of a zombie doing recreational activities. These and other bits are refreshing or, at least, under-used and well-done.

Nonetheless — despite its approaches — it begat comparison. The players resemble Bob Saget and Jessica Alba, planning their nuptials in the company of Seann William Scott and Laura Dern, while resisting the attentions of Robert Patrick and Sheryl Lee.

Alternately, American Pie goes to The Cabin in the Woods, while avoiding the slayers of John Carpenter’s Vampires. Its closest relative in topic and tone is 2009’s Zombieland. A Little Bit Zombie is derivative in parts, but they’re blended creatively. It’s often surprising, always entertaining, and an evening better spent than actually getting married.

* * * *

Rated 14A

88 minutes

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