As a big fan of “Holliston”, I like to check out what else its creators, Adam Green and Joe Dante, are up to. After reviewing “Digging up the Marrow”, Green’s newest soiree, a couple months ago, I finally got around to renting Dante’s newest feature, “Burying the Ex”. The movie came out in June to very little fanfare. Critics and random web crawlers felt that it was a flop, just a dumb wannabe horror comedy lacking in fun, gore and scares. Even with the subpar reviews nagging at the back of my mind, I hoped that even though this movie wasn’t for everyone, I would still find it enjoyable. Fortunately, that was exactly the case. I’ll admit, this isn’t for everyone. It is very much a romantic comedy, just with some zombies and a hell of a lot of genre allusions. So, basically exactly what I figured it would be.
“Burying the Ex” is not your typical zombie movie. It is not your typical horror movie. And it is not your typical romantic comedy. However, if you are the kind of person that could possibly be interested in the intersection of those three, then this movie is highly recommended. The flick opens with Max, played by an excellent Anton Yelchin, dealing with his overbearing girlfriend Evelyn, played by the talented in oh-so-many ways Ashley Green. Max loves his girlfriend, but she has plenty of marks against her. When she is unexpectedly killed just before he plans to break up with her, Max turns into a wreck. Eventually he meets a new girl Olivia, played by Alexandra Daddario, who is everything he could ever ask for in a girl. Unfortunately, that is about the time that Evelyn comes back to life. See, she and Max made a vow to be together forever earlier in the movie, but because they said it unknowingly over a creepy devil-genie idol at the shop Max works at, it bound her even in death. Hey, there’s always gotta be a reason for zombies to show up. Now Evelyn wants her man back, Max wants his dead girlfriend to stay dead, and Olivia just wants to hang out with the new guy she likes. Sound like a fun love triangle?
What really makes this movie great is the set of characters that we see develop over the run time and the relationships between them. First we’ve got Max, who is the guy every horror movie fan can relate to. He’s kinda dorky, he works at a horror emporium (where is he required to tell his customers to ‘go to hell’ as they leave), but he’s really a good dude. And he has a super hot girlfriend. Evelyn, said girlfriend, is the kind of girl you could understand having a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, she’s got the looks and sex drive to make anyone jealous; but on the other, she is a professional blogger, she is totally against artificial additives to foods, and she is a go-green Nazi. But… she’s really hot. Then we’ve got Olivia. She works at an ice cream shop with novelty genre and pop culture themed flavors. She’s totally obsessed with horror movies. She knows what “Fruit Brute” is. And she’s played by Alexandra Daddario. Do you suddenly see Max’s dilemma here? He’s got Evelyn, the safe choice, the known quantity, who has her faults but also her good aspects. But he’s also got the fun, attractive, new Olivia, who is so very like him and so seemingly perfect.
Okay, you see what I did there? I got really into the whole romantic comedy side of this movie and totally neglected the reason I’m reviewing it as a horror movie. I told you there were zombies, right? And you are still reading? Good. There is plenty of gore to go around. The zombie make up itself is pretty spectacular, nothing CGI or over the top here. Evelyn just looks like a dead person, none of the wild and unrealistic makeup some people like to put zombies in. When the violence comes, Dante does get pretty creative and we can smile at a lot of the gore we see.
Overall ‘Burying the Ex’ is a good flick, but it does have its disclaimers. It is not for the casual fan, you’ll need a pretty solid appreciation for the genre to enjoy it. It’s not for the gorehound, this one is just not bloody enough. And it’s definitely not going to induce nightmares, so if you’re looking for a good scare you should turn and run. What ‘Burying the Ex’ is is a cute romantic comedy for the horror fan. I know I’ll probably take some flak for that comment, but it’s the truth. It’s fun, it’s well written, it has just the right amount of gore and violence, and it’s just tailored enough to keep mainstream audiences out of sight. Take from that what you will.