The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale
"Korean comedies are known for their quirkiness and The Odd Family combines this with a set of principal characters so wilfully obnoxious that it would be difficult not to like them." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

Zombies. There are hordes of them out there. Most of them are difficult to distinguish one from another - all they do it shamble around trying to consume one's brains and one's viewing time and sometimes, as a critic, one wants to take off and nuke the whole lot of them from orbit. But then every now and again one appears who is different from the rest - a little more intelligent, perhaps, or possessed of a certain poignancy - and it gives one hope. This is the sort of zombie one wants to take home and adopt.

We first meet the Park family when Joon-gul (Jeong Jae-yeong) is out on the road at night in his tow truck, 'rescuing' city folk whose car has been damaged by caltrops mysteriously left lying around, then fixing their car at a massively inflated price. Out in the middle of nowhere, this is the only way that he and his family can make money from their run-down petrol station. Their fortunes change, however, when Joon-gul's father is set upon and bitten by a mysterious stranger whom his sleazy brother identifies as the possible victim of a recently exposed scandal at a pharmaceutical plant. When, the next day, the elderly man appears mysteriously rejuvenated, the family realise that the stranger, whom they have captured and imprisoned in their barn, could be a goldmine. Soon they are charging the local geriatric population a small fortune to get bitten. What could possibly go wrong?

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Korean comedies are known for their quirkiness and The Odd Family combines this with a set of principal characters so wilfully obnoxious that it would be difficult not to like them - or at least, if you're the sort of person who enjoys such things, the rest of this film will make you happy. By contrast, its undead star, affectionately named Jjong-bi (and beautifully played by Jung Ga-ram) is a hapless and rather sweet sort of monster who is quickly trained to each ketchup-streaked cabbages instead of human brains and who develops a strong attachment to teenage daughter Hae-gul (Lee Soo-kyung), the only one who is kind to him. This blend of comedy and pathos keeps the film trundling along nicely until events take a turn the family did not expect and it turns out that their latest scam may have consequences on a national scale.

Screening at this year's Fantasia International Film Festival, this is a playful film which exhibits some nice directorial flourishes when the pace picks up. There's great ensemble work from the cast, human and otherwise, and a real sense of urgency to the action scenes even if this isn't the scariest zombie film you'll ever see. Director Lee min-jae makes good use of the rural locations to tell a story that's as much about the cultural divisions in South Korean society as it is about the undead, but there's no danger of it getting too serious. It doesn't need to be fierce. Being bitten by it is a pleasure.

Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2019
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The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale packshot
When a pharmaceutical company's illegal experiments inadvertently create a zombie, the strange Park family finds it and tries to profit from its unexpected viagra-like effect.

Director: Lee Min-jae

Starring: Jeong Jae-yeong, Jung Ga-ram, Kim Nam-gil

Year: 2019

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: South Korea

Festivals:

Fantasia 2019

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