Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #307
Number of Views: One
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Running time: 88 minutes
Director: Matthias Hoene
Producers: James Harris, Mark Lane, Matthias Hoene
Screenplay: James Moran, Lucas Roche, Matthias Hoene (original idea)
Special Effects: Scott McIntyre, Conal Palmer
Visual Effects: Sergio Ayrosa, Paul Norris
Cinematography: Daniel Bronks
Score: Jody Jenkins
Editing: Neil Farrell, John Palmer
Studios: Limelight, Molinare, Tea Shop & Film Company
Distributors: Aya Pro Company, StudioCanal, Shout! Factory
Stars: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Jack Doolan, Georgia King, Ashley Thomas, Tony Gardner, Alan Ford, Honor Blackman, Tony Selby, Georgina Hale, Dudley Sutton, Richard Briers, Natalie Walter, Phil Cornwell, Josh Cole, Gary Beadle, Finlay Robertson, Elizabeth Webster, Joan Hodges, Michael Maris, David Ajao, Elena Argiros, Dexter Fletcher
Suggested Audio Candy
 Chas & Dave “Head To Head (With The Undead)”
 Alan Hawkshaw “Grandstand”
There has been plentiful stroking of the chin over ways to commence this appraisal. I herald mere clicks away from the East End of London and therefore know more about cockney than most. Allow me to explain the difference between cockney and the dialect of the uninitiated.
From the moment I opened my mince pies, I knew today was going to be different. After scratching my loaf of bread and straightening my disheveled Barnet fair, my first thought was to grab my weasel and stoat and go spend some bees and honey. I’m not short of an Oxford scholar, you would know as much by taking a butcher’s hook at my designer uncle Bert. One stretch of my bacon and eggs and a crick of my biscuits and cheese is all it takes for me to feel ready. But the very moment I give my cobbler’s awls a vague scratch , the most godawful pen and ink fills my nostrils and I know it can only be my trouble and strife. Ordinarily she rabbit and porks for England but today her only vocal comes via a rasped raspberry tart from her Khyber pass. Immediately my Hampton wick goes flaccid.
From the moment I opened my eyes, I knew today was going to be different. After scratching my head and straightening my disheveled hair, my first thought was to grab my coat and go spend some money. I’m not short of a dollar, you would know as much by taking a look at my designer shirt. One stretch of my legs and a crick of my knees is all it takes for me to feel ready. But the very moment I give my balls a vague scratch, the most godawful stink fills my nostrils and I know it can only be my wife. Ordinarily she talks for England but today her only vocal comes via a rasped fart from her ass. Immediately my dick goes flaccid.
You get it? That’s what cockney means, rhyming the shit out of everything while listening to old Chas and Dave 33’s. For anyone struggling to comprehend we have our very own soap opera in England dedicated to representing the cockney way of living. Word to the wise Grueheads, Eastenders is as depressing as all shit and will corrode your brain given half a chance but it does keep the East End in the public eye. Following on from his debut Beyond The Rave, Matthias Hoene’s second full length feature wears its cockney heritage on its bloody sleeve from the offset. It is also very much aware of its target audience, namely those who made Shaun of The Dead such an unprecedented success.
It also draws its inspiration from other regional delights such as Guy Ritchie’s eminently quotable crime caper Snatch, plucking out Alan Ford (who played self-confessed “horrible cunt” Brick Top to such marvellous menacing effect) and asking him to all but reprise his role, albeit less effectively. Michelle Ryan also makes an appearance and despite starting out in British soap operas, she has gone on to work stateside playing the lead role in the ill-fated Bionic Woman. Other than that, there are a couple of distinguishable English heavyweights in the form of Honor Blackman and Richard Briers, both of which appear to be having a whale of the time. All the pawns are in place for another indisputable British zom-com classic.
The plot revolves around a botched bank robbery with the best of intentions as the group of spirited youngsters look to raise the money required to stop their grandfather’s retirement village from closure. After coming into a cool £2.5 million purely by blind luck, the ragtag band of merry men and women look to return to their elders and save the day before the wrecking ball begins its motion. Alas, they hadn’t counted on the zombies which have suddenly overrun the East End and are looking for an appetizer. There is no real reason given for the outbreak and, at this point, that’s just fine with me. If you’re looking for deep and meaningful explanations as to how the disease spread then watch a Romero movie. If, like Keeper, it matters not then you’ll be pleased to know that one minute they’re not there and the next the whole city is overrun.
Cockneys vs Zombies has its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout and is under no false pretense that it has any right to be considered thoughtful. It plays for laughs consistently and, while this makes for a light-hearted romp, it doesn’t mean that it is without its foibles. The most critical error is that, hard as it tries, it just isn’t that funny. There are moments for sure, watching an eighty-four year old attempting to outrun the undead using his Zimmer frame is worth a cackle and the moment when one victim warns the zombies that he suffers from a heart condition whilst having his throat chowed down upon is another. However the hilarity is few and far between and instead there are plentiful moments to break a smile. For a film so primed for brilliance, that comes across as vaguely disenchanting if I’m honest.
Another example is Alan Ford. As Ray, he delivers all the swagger of Brick Top but lacks his biting dialogue. Elsewhere, the youngsters do relatively well with their material, although many of the guffaws come at the expense of the more seasoned performers, the trapped pensioners who put aside their hip replacements and forget the fact that one of their numbers is a Raspberry Ripple (cripple), to battle the horde with any tool made available to them and display more wits than the youngsters can even dream of. It tries valiantly to emulate Edgar Wright’s masterpiece and, on paper, appears it may just do it but so-so writing ultimately lets it down.
It’s impossible not to have fun with Cockneys vs Zombies. It builds steadily and, when the sandbox becomes repopulated, there is plenty of irreverence and light-hearted shenanigans to keep you vaguely invested. However, for all its endeavor, its impossible to shake the feeling that it could have been so much more. The setting and cast are ideal but a lack of truly inventive writing leave it a few shuffling steps behind the big guns.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Here is where Hoene gets it bang on the money. There is no shortage of grue, albeit played for laughs rather than gross-out. Heads are split and removed, intestines foraged within, throats ripped out, and all sorts of gloriously realized gore spatters with gay abandon. Too much unnecessary CGI takes the sheen off a little but any practical effects are exemplary for the most part.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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