Cockneys Vs Zombies is a British zombie comedy (as if you hadn’t worked that out from the title already) that was released in 2012 and was directed by Matthias Hoene and written by James Moran and Lucas Roche.
There’s almost no limit to how ridiculous a horror movie can be while remaining a brilliant piece of entertainment. Horror is, in itself, a ridiculous genre, and pretty much all our beloved horror classics have some element of the completely ‘out-there’ somewhere in their story.
The zombie genre is, of course, no stranger to this concept, with any number of utterly ridiculous movies incorporating the undead – from Zombie Strippers (2008) to Zombeavers (2014), pretty much every single noun in the world has been attached to the “…vs Zombies” moniker at some point (hey, Scouts Vs Zombies is on the way you know. True). Many of these kinds of movies fall flat, but sometimes they succeed, and when they do it’s all the more special.
One example of the ‘borderline-parody’ zombie genre working really is Cockneys vs Zombies, a movie which is more-or-less summed up entirely in its title. A gang of ne’er-do-wells plan a bank robbery so they can keep a retirement home open, but when they arrive they catch the bank manager in the midst of an illegal transaction. The manager calls the police on them, but they turn up as lumbering minions of the undead and it becomes clear that London is in the midst of a zombie outbreak.
The zombie outbreak in Cockney Vs Zombies is triggered by two construction workers who unwittingly stumble across a mass grave that dates back to the era of Charles II. The graveyard was sealed off in the 17th Century and sensing that there might be valuable artifacts in there they start poking around. During their clumsy exploration of the graveyard the construction workers discover there was a good reason that the graveyard was ordered to be sealed (there always is!), and it isn’t long before they are bitten by a zombie, and things just escalate from there.
This outbreak sets up the backdrop, and our heroes, now with a couple of hostages in tow, find themselves rushing to save their loved ones and fight off the hordes of zombies now covering most of London.
Yes, it’s a simple premise, and the film itself doesn’t do a huge amount to subvert established genre tropes. But then, it doesn’t need to – Cockneys vs Zombies is just an outright celebration of the genre, performed with panache and taken just seriously enough to stop it tilting over into complete farce.
The film doesn’t ask a huge amount from it’s besieged leads (who include stars-to-be like Harry Treadaway, now of Penny Dreadful fame), but manages to eke out some genuinely emotional moments from the retirement-home cast. In fact it is the retirement home cast that end up being the baddest characters in the film and are totally not to be messed with – they are the real stereotypical ‘cockneys’ of the title, all swearing, brash attitudes, and ready to fight at the drop of a hat. Richard Briers (in what would turn out to be his final role before he died) and ‘professional-cockney’ Alan Ford (who played Brick Top in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2002)) bring just the right amount of gravitas to the movie, giving it some stakes as it heads into it’s frenetic final act.
For a film with a constrained budget, the special effects, deserve some notice – strong real effects and a gritty eye for action from director Matthias Hoene keep the pace rollicking along, and keeps what could have felt like a dumb college assignment project in a safely slick territory. Plus when the outbreak starts there are decent number of zombies roaming around to keep the sense that this is a problem that is spreading through London quickly and is spiraling out of control. The budget limitations are slightly more visible in many of the outdoor scenes and many of the London locations that are used for the action are basically back-streets that would not have been too difficult to keep empty for filming anyway. This film could be in any city to be honest, but if it wasn’t set in London then you wouldn’t be able to exploit the ‘one-joke’ nature of the title – ‘Cockneys Vs Zombies‘.
That said, there are plenty of set-pieces here for the action fans, and plenty of nods to classics of the genre for those with a passion for zombies in particular.
Cockneys vs Zombies is far from a ground-breaking movie, but then, it never sets out to be anything along those lines. It adds nothing new to either the zombie genre or the horror-comedy genre, but it has so much fun doing what it does that you end up going along for the ride anyway without too much complaint. It’s simply a gleeful, loving salute to everything great about zombies, managing to provide a twist on the usual premise with the London setting (which is about as far from 28 Days Later…as it could possibly be).
In places it sometimes feels like the whole thing was a 30 minute comedy episode that has run over time because the director forgot to shout cut, but it somehow pulls it off for the 88 minute running time. If you’re looking for genuinely entertaining but un-taxing entertainment, you could do a lot worse than taking a look at this movie.
An alternative movie poster was released for the Cockneys Vs Zombies launch on DVD and Blu-Ray, which sums up the action as an infographic – a fun way to show the number of kills, headshots, number of limbs cut off etc…..in the movie. This poster sums up the movie better than any review could to be honest, and pretty much lays out the table for what viewers can expect, and does a pretty good job of setting expectations – nobody is going into this looking for a dark and moody horror or a critique of modern society, this is action, comedy and kills throughout.
We wanted to say that this movie was better than the title suggests, but after some thought it is probably more accurate to say that this movie, in the tradition of movies like ‘Sharknado‘ or ‘Snakes on a Plane‘, does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it with unrestrained joy and a distinct self-awareness. Check it out.
Watch the trailer for ‘Cockneys Vs Zombies below:
|Watch Cockneys Vs Zombies at iTunes|
|Get Cockneys Vs Zombies at Amazon|
|Checkout the Cockneys Vs Zombies soundtrack Amazon|
Written by: Louise MacGregor