Retro Review: COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012){0}

There are several colors in the “horror/comedy” spectrum. Some films, like John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is a horror film with sly wit, whereas on the other side of the scale we have Scary Movie, which is little more than a broad spoof that happens to focus on cliches and stereotypes found in horror flicks. Somewhere right in the middle, of course, is Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, one of the very rare films that finds a way to succeed at horror and comedy at the exact same time. Ever since the success of Shaun, we’ve seen a lot of zombie comedies from around the world, and the newest one from the UK, entitled Cockneys vs. Zombies, is most assuredly a farce first and a horror film second. Fortunately it’s also a farce with quick wit, a few clever ideas, a nice brisk pace, several amusing actors, and (logically) some gore-laden zombie massacre mayhem.

Sophomore feature from Matthias Hoene (Beyond the Rave), Cockneys vs. Zombies is “about” little more than a rather typical (but entirely splattery) zombie invasion that suddenly crops up in East London. We wouldn’t have much of a zombie movie, even a silly one, without a colorful cast of survivors worth rooting for, and it’s in that department that this goofy movie truly shines. If the premise of Cockneys vs. Zombies is inspired by Shaun of the Dead, then the casting was probably inspired by Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. There are some great old Brits to be found in this flick, and it’s great to see them having fun with mallets and shotguns and chainsaws and such. Scrappy old Alan Ford steals most of the movie with his ass-kicking bravado, but as the manager of an old age home that’s under zombie siege, he has ample support from actors like Honor Blackmon, Richard Briers, and Georgina Hale. 


The younger players are also very appealing, most notably Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway as the misfit brothers who act as the connective tissue between the zombies, the old age home, and a stupid bank robbery that takes place just as the zombie hordes start chewing their way across London. Reliant mainly on witty banter, broad violence, or sly smash-cut humor to keep its audience amused, Cockneys vs. Zombies also displays a bit of gore-soaked attitude when dealing with the ravenous undead, but for the most part the film succeeds on sheer power of comedy writing, funny actors, and a filmmaker who knows what tone he wants well before he starts shooting. 


Co-written by (full disclosure: my personal pal) James Moran (Severance, Tower Block) and a fine film editor turned part-time screenwriter (Lucas Roche), Cockneys vs. Zombies may be inspired by the cleverness and the success of Shaun of the Dead, but it also works on its own merits, and that’s ultimately what matters. I much prefer zombie horror over zombie comedy, but this frantic lark is a bit more clever and a lot more amiable than most of what passes for “zom-com” these days. You don’t have to be a Brit to dig this movie, but it will probably help if you like them.