I finally made it around to checking out “Zombeavers”, one of the newer horror flicks I’ve been looking forward to. There was a lot of hype around the release, and for good reason. A slough of great fake movie posters, a spectacular title and some pretty entertaining trailers could charm many a fan boy. Viewers know coming in that it won’t be a traditional “scary” movie, but it should be good for a few laughs and have enough gore to make a case for its genre. In the end I was pleasantly surprised, but generally not impressed.
The biggest draw for me to “Zombeavers” was some of the initial reports and interviews I read. It was billed as “not taking itself too seriously, but not being a clichéd parody”, or something to that effect. I had big expectations, and I was thinking something the likes of “Piranha” and its blend of interesting characters, overly ridiculous plot and plentiful laughs. I’d say the movie here checks one of those boxes, then tries to get away with checking a second but forgets what it is doing momentarily and gets caught. As far as the plot being ridiculous, sure. Easy check. BIG check. Zombie mutated beavers? Sure thing. And that’s just the beginning of the ridiculousness. The next box, the laughs, they’re there too, don’t get me wrong. You’ll find yourself laughing just as much as at the intentional jokes as the sheer oddness of some of the situations and lines. Either way works, don’t think that’s a knock on the writers. They knew what they were doing in that department. Where they falter is on that last box, the ‘interesting characters’ part. The plot does actually have some dramatic and good intentioned twists and turns, the relationships are a bit more complex than the standard for horror movies, but something just misses. I’ll blame it a bit on the actors (more on that later), but primarily I think the characters aren’t very likeable. It’s not that they weren’t believable, there just wasn’t anyone I was rooting for. So overall, missed potential in the story department, but still pretty entertaining.
Visually, the movie had it’s ups and downs. Lighting, camera angles, cinematography stuff like that is sub par. I wasn’t expecting anything impressive, but there is little stimulation from that front. The credits were fun, I’ll give them that. Very old school and had me grinning. And the opening scene was much of the same. I was having flashbacks to “Return of the Living Dead”, which is a good thing. But then we got into the meat of the film and the smile faded. To make up for it, director Jordan Rubin throws in a heavy dose of grossnes, gore and nudity very early on. The effects, while not on “The Thing” level, were all real karo syrup and slime kind of stuff. I hope that was a stylistic choice and not a monetary one. Whichever the case, they looked great and fit the mood of the film. As for the other visual goodies, I’ll tell you that Cortney Palm is quite the looker.
I always like to take at least one thing away from a movie. It may be something as simple as a character’s name or an interesting camera shot, but there is always something that shines. “Zombeavers” has an interesting element that I had not seen before, and one that I really want to commend Rubin and his partner Al Kaplan on. I’ll explain here: What is the biggest cliché in horror movies? That if you have sex, you will die. And how can we simply summarize this movie? Six horny college kids spending a weekend in a cabin are attacked by undead beavers. Now the interesting part here is that despite the seemingly standard plotline, the people that have sex first do not die first! In fact, the sluttiest girl of the three, the one who is topless for probably a full five minutes of screen time, is the one that survives! Not the nerdy, uptight one. Not the sad, emotional one. The slutty one! Eat that, “Cabin in the Woods”! Maybe I’m the only one that will appreciate that, but honestly, very original stuff. Rubin, if I ever see you at a bar, the first round is on me.
I’m omitting things like sound, set design, costuming, etc. Honestly… it was an indy horror movie. The emphasis here is on having some fun, seeing some zombie beavers eating some college kids, and seeing some nice boobs. We got that surprise middle finger to the decency conventions of horror, but really, this wasn’t a thinker. A friend once asked me in high school if I would hook up with our substitute teacher “after 8 beers, and she came on to you”. That about sums up “Zombeavers”. Most people won’t give it a chance, at least not without a little prompting, but in the end they won’t be mad about it. Despite all the criticism I dished out, I did enjoy the movie. I’d check out another Jordan Rubin movie, if he ever decides to take on the big screen again.
*Extra note: Rubin actually has a pretty impressive track record outside of the movies. He is a writer for various talk and comedy shows, with credits including “The Man Show”, “Crank Yankers”, the MTV Movie Awards and even 2011’s Academy Awards.