THEATRICAL REVIEW: Zombeavers
Produced by: Evan Astrowsky, Chris Bender, Christopher Lemole
Written by: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan
Edited by: Ed Marx, Seth Flaum
Cinematography by: Jonathan Hall
Music by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan
Starring: Rachel Melvin, Hutch Dano, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Bill Burr, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy, Rex Linn, Brent Briscoe, Phyllis Katz, Robert R. Shafer, Chad Anderson
“We cannot turn against each other right now. That is exactly what the beavers would want!” That’s the line in the trailer that sold my buddy and me on seeing this film. And, as if that weren’t enough, the trailer ended with the tagline, “They’ll dam you to hell!” Ha! This movie knew what it was, and the fact that it was getting decent enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (64% positive!), we figured, you know… why not? So he came driving up 100 miles to visit, with Zombeavers being half the reason for our hanging out. (He also wanted to go to Ikea.)
If you can’t already tell, Zombeavers totally knows what kind of movie it is, boasting that it’s from the guys behind such delights as Cabin Fever, The Ring, uh… We’re the Millers, and American Pie. It’s pretty much more comedy than it is horror, using that genre as mere window dressing. It’s not a particularly insightful film, either – it’s not as clever or witty as Scream, Shaun of the Dead, or The Cabin in the Woods, and if you were expecting even a few genuinely scary or intense moments to be thrown in like those films did, then… don’t, particularly if you saw the trailer. Though horror tropes are employed, it’s hardly using them in any sort of artistic way, satirical or not. Things are basically the way they are because that’s just how horror films generally are, and the comedy doesn’t derive from the commentary about horror films but from the novelty of taking a by-the-numbers zombie/slasher film and putting in some purposely terrible undead beaver puppets in place of the regular zombies. Apart from some assuredly self-aware scripting, that is pretty much it.
… Oh, do you want me to go into depth about the story? Well, fine then. Three girls go out on a trip to a secluded cabin to escape from their humdrum lives of boys and cellphones and have some girl time. There aren’t many people out in the woods apart from the nice elderly couple across the lake and a creepy hunter who mutters some ominous warnings about beavers in the area between spitting some tobacco juice. The girls’ vacation is interrupted, however, by the presence of their boyfriends (and, in one case, ex-boyfriend). Needless to say, everything is disrupted with lots of sex and swimming, and it all ends in disaster thanks to zombie beavers attacking.
And… yeah, that’s it. I told you it wasn’t much, and they don’t even really stick to any formulas, either. There are certainly no virginal characters in the group, nor are there any particular characters that I would imagine rooting for, either. About the only thing of note here is that, apart from its basic setup, Zombeavers at least doesn’t follow any sort of rules about which of these loathsome, annoyingly dramatic characters dies first. You kind of just want to see them all get offed in ridiculous ways, and the movie is more than happy to oblige. This attitude is perhaps the only bit of commentary Zombeavers might have to offer us, pointing out how insipid and unlikeable characters in so many horror films tend to be these days. I had flashbacks to Rob Zombie’s awful remake of Halloween, which downgraded Laurie into being a rather one-dimensional lesser of three evils amongst her own group of friends.
This gleeful built-in hatred for the movie’s own characters is somewhat refreshing, but only in the last two thirds of the film, as you spend quite a while at the beginning building up your own hatred for them before all the good gory stuff begins to happen. One can only take so many recycled jokes about the characters’ sex lives and the most obvious of puns before it becomes tiresome and you start wondering if the movie is trying too hard and you’re about to start hating the movie itself, too. I know I was starting to feel a little betrayed because I wasn’t really having a good time early on.
Luckily, the film does pick up, and then it is that dumb but admittedly fun time the trailer was promising. It’s not a particularly good film, and it’s not even a particularly good so-bad-it’s-good film, either, but with its silly, purposely bad special effects scenes and the delightfully absurd sight gag of mutating zombeaver bite victims, I ultimately had a good enough time for this one time. It is a labor of love, I’ll give it that. Some of you might love it so much, it’ll become a new cult classic for you. So long as you don’t take this movie seriously in any way, even as comedy, you’ll have some fun for at least the first go. Just turn off your brain and marvel at the ridiculous premise these people cobbled together to present to their audience.
The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 2.5 / 5