Cockneys Vs Zombies

Cockneys Vs Zombies

***1/2

Reviewed by: David Graham

A dire idea on paper, this latest Shaun Of The Dead knock-off is significantly better than it probably has any right to be, primarily due to Lucas Roche and Severance scribe James Moran's canny script and the best efforts of a gloriously game cast of rising youngsters and legendary OAP-thesps. While the hackneyed crime story of the former sometimes detracts from the latter's nursing home of the living dead hi-jinks, the pace is brisk enough to maintain interest for the duration. There's plenty of memorably messy carnage and over-ripe dialogue to chew on, with feature-length first-timer Matthias Hoene having enough contagious fun behind the camera to sweep the audience along for the ride.

A bungled bank heist involving East London siblings Katy, Terry and Andy is serendipitously saved by an impromptu undead infestation, leaving the young gang of crims hiding out in their feisty grandpa Ray's closure-threatened retirement home. As the shuffling elderly struggle to fend off their even slower shuffling enemies, inter-generational tensions in the group rise to the fore, but a plan is soon formulated to make a daring escape via local services and well-known London landmarks.

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Horror-comedy is a notoriously difficult balancing act, despite frequently being the chosen calling card for debut directors, but Hoene has obviously studied his inspirations and managed to channel their success without getting too derivative. The script even manages to throw in a little more social and political subtext than the fundamentally stoner-centric, middle class sense of humour Simon Pegg and co pursued previously, with Ashley Thomas' live-wire hard-man proving particularly amusing through his racial gangsta posturing. Michelle Ryan's tough cookie act and Harry Treadaway's diamond geezer banter are a little less effective, while Rasmus Hardiker's would-be rousing underdog ends up an underwhelming centrepiece, but the youthful cast all acquit themselves with aplomb.

The real comedic heart of the film is with the still-kicking Brit-veteran oldies though, Alan Ford's plucky ringleader anchoring the film with real grit and gusto while lovably senile Richard Briers pinches scenes through his absurdly elaborate and surreal rhyming slang. Honor Blackman and the other elder actresses are given a little less to do despite holding their own during the many zimmer-assisted skirmishes, but overall the ensemble are an even greater attraction than the often imaginative, light-hearted gore, which may fail to scale the heights of Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi's old-school grot classics but still has more bite than most contemporary zombie flicks.

Several scenes possess a genuine warmth and there are frequent well-made satirical points about the nursing home culture and relationships between modern kids and their peers, but for the most part Hoene doesn't try to pretentiously deviate from his eponymous template, and his film is all the better for it. The climax fails to live up to the promising opening, and some characters are clearly superfluous while others are dispatched too early considering their crowd-pleasing quality, but overall Cockneys Vs Zombies is an unexpected blast and follows the superior but equally well-intentioned Attack The Block as an Eighties-style breath of fresh air throwback fun.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2012
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Cockneys Vs Zombies packshot
Bank robbers fight their way out of zombie-infested London.


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