Aki Vs. Evil: Night of the Living Deb

I didn’t want to write about this one, but since I kept running into this in various lists of good or best horror comedies. It just happens to be the worst one I’ve seen. Sure, I assume certain parodies of horror movies are worse, but since I haven’t seen those, I couldn’t really tell you.

Spoilers.

Another reason this popped on my radar was that I saw that Ben Shapiro had decided to stick his horrible ideas into movies and that ended up being an action film about a school shooting. I haven’t seen it, but even the idea feels so tasteless that I never will. Well, that movie happened to have a director whose link was marked as visited on my browser, so I wondered why. Well, he had directed this film. I guess that explains quite a bit.

So, Deb has a one-night stand with guy and in the morning they wake up to a zombie apocalypse. They try to escape together.

In a way this is sort of admirable. They raised a 100k on Kickstarter and made movie. It looks good for that price tag and Maria Thayer (Deb) is pretty good. Actually too good for this movie. Of course, so is Ray Wise, who makes an appearance late in the movie, but he is good in everything. There’s some interesting ideas here, like our male protagonist learning to enjoy killing the zombies, but it just isn’t handled very well.

That’s the good part of the movie. Sadly Michael Cassidy (playing the main male character) is so wooden it’s hard to believe he is a working actor with dozens of credits (mostly small guest roles in TV shows, but still). The characters feel like the creative people behind the movie don’t actually socialize with anyone because they don’t really seem to understand people. The comedy is something the people behind the movie read about in a book, but haven’t actually come across. For example, there’s an extended scene of the two main characters arguing whether they should close or open the eyes of a corpse. Someone saw that on page and thought it was funny. With their budget, they probably just couldn’t afford to cut it after filming it. Or maybe they actually thought that it was necessary to show as part of the generic rom-com plot.

Obviously, they are trying to leech on the success of Shaun of the Dead. Even the tagline is “It’s a Rom-Zom-Com!”, which is based on something Simon Pegg said about their movie. Not that this kind of leeching is necessarily bad. Of course, all movies are in some way inspired by previous work by others. Just don’t be so obvious about it.

The movie follows a rom-com template. The two people meet in the first act (which is about 25 minutes in a typical rom-com), they grow to like each other in the second act (around 50 minutes typically) before something happens to drive them apart before one of them needs to do something to repair the situation. The thing is, that last part doesn’t actually require any effort from anyone, which leaves the whole thing kind of… empty. There is the situation that drives them away from each other, but instead of one of them working to fix it, the whole thing is just pushed into the background and they are working together again. You don’t have to follow strict templates, but in order to subvert them, you need to understand them to make the subversion feel natural.

There’s a subplot about government corruption, but while that is an important topic, based on the director working with Ben Shapiro later in his career, I don’t think their motivations on this topic are very pure. The usual right wing line is that government is bad, so this feels like they tried to prove that and it’s just so unnecessary to the rest of the movie. It also feels kind of insidious, because it’s about government pressuring a private company into doing something immoral, not moneyed interests corrupting the government, like in reality. No, in this movie the capitalist, who is willing to sacrifice the whole town to hide his wrongdoing, is the victim, who is greeted with love by the protagonists at the end of the movie when it turns out he did survive a situation which should have been deadly.

Also, in this movie apparently water treatment is an extremely lucrative business. Are these facilities actually privately owned in the US? I mean, they are often technically private companies in Finland, but are also owned by the municipalities. Adding a profit motive on something so basic just seems so stupid, because there is no room for any kind of competition. But I guess political dogma rules over all common sense.

Anyhow, in the end it’s just boring, which is the biggest possible sin for a movie.

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