Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Zomblogalypse falls short of its potential, but its amiable brand of comedy still scores pretty well."

Is there a species of zombie film we haven’t yet seen? We’ve had existential terror, simple gorefests, pandemic parables, soulful dramas, sports films, documentaries and mockumentaries, pornography, westerns, found footage, animé, science fiction, sword and sorcery, high school musicals, giallo, zomcoms, zomromcoms and even films made from the zombie’s point of view – but though Shaun Of The Dead came close, we have never really had a zombie sitcom. At least not on the big screen. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why 2008 webn series Zomblogalypse was such a success. After four seasons (and quite a lengthy break), it has now emerged in big screen form.

Translating from an episodic format to a film is always fraught with difficulties. Here writes/directors/stars Hannah Bungard, Tony Hipwell and Miles Watts have made the sensible decision to eschew simply stretching out their usual type of story and have introduced an additional layer of plot. To wit, the three survivors, who have moved from their flat to a comfortably appointed library, decided that somebody ought to chronicle the events of the last ten years, and that as former film students, it falls upon them to do so by telling their own story.

What follows is a comedic take on amateur film production, complicated by the ever present threat from the undead. The likeable but chronically self-centred trio enlist fans of their blog to help make the film, but their decision to use real zombies doesn’t work out so well. Enthusiastic efforts by people with no real idea what they’re doing can only get the production so far when those who are beginning to build up some expertise keep being eaten.

A notably more capable team of local actos has been assembled to play these unfortunates, with Lyndsey Craine, who made a likeable lead in 2018’s Book Of Monsters, shining as a fan whose devotion to the project can overcome pretty much anything. The leads already know their roles well and inhabit them comfortably, with an established dynamic which will continue to appeal to fans of the series. Their characters’ casual attitude to the undead makes perfect sense in context, no more remarkable than people being flippant about Covid or about oncoming cars when crossing the street. It gets them into some serious scrapes, but of course they’ve had a lot of time to think about how to get out of them.

There are some inventive moments here and despite the low budget look of the whole, the special effects work just well enough to shock where necessary and make the scenario work. Inevitably, though, there are pacing problems. The film would be much stronger with about 20 minutes cut out of it. Too much time is spent watching people mill about aimlessly. We don’t need this much help to get the point; we do need conversation or action to keep us engaged.

It makes sense that we don’t get to know the supporting characters very well, given how the central trio see them, but this mean we don’t much emotional impact when they die, which gradually becomes a problem. It means there’s little meaningful sense of peril, when a bit of tension would have helped to sustain the pace. A small number of characters exhibit their own survival strategies and repeatedly manage to escape unscathed, but we never really get to know them. Meanwhile, the potential threat to the film-within-the-film from disapproving producers is somewhat diluted by our awareness that it will have a limited audience anyway, since almost everyone is dead.

Given these issues, Zomblogalypse falls short of its potential, but its amiable brand of comedy still scores pretty well and it’s likely to please longstanding fans of the blog. Those who are fond of York will also enjoy it as it takes a very different look at the historic city, a nice change from London or New York. Bungard, Hipwell and Watts have a clear affection for their subject and gradually wend their way to an ending which would have made George Romero smile.

Reviewed on: 27 Sep 2021
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A feature length adaptation of the cult zomcom web series following the adventures of three inept survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

Director: Hannah Bungard, Tony Hipwell, Miles Watts

Writer: Hannah Bungard, Tony Hipwell, Miles Watts

Starring: Hannah Bungard, Tony Hipwell, Miles Watts, Lyndsey Craine, Alan Melikdjanian, Joanne Mitchell, Andrew Dunn, Andrina Carroll

Year: 2021

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: UK


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