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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD. Studio Canal.

When builders uncover a sealed up tomb (and inevitably break into it, they unleash a zombie plague on the East End of London. This happens as brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker), alongside cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan), try to hold up a bank to get the money to prevent their granddad’s retirement home from closing down, and soon the hapless threesome – alongside a couple of hostages and cohorts Davey Tuppence (Jack Doolan) and Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas) find themselves holed up against a zombie army, while trying to figure out how to get to the retirement home and save the day.

I had few expectations for this film, given the title, the concept and an annoying trailer, so when I say that it’s better than I’d expected, that’s not necessarily saying much. The film actually turns out to be a fairly slick production, with a strong, if not exactly sophisticated level of humour and a few impressive gore scenes. If it wasn’t for the fact that the whole film is clearly patterned after Shaun of the Dead – from the plot structure to the editing style to the dialogue – then it might have seemed fairly original. As it is, it’s more a passable facsimile. It’s ever dull, but never inspired and the whole Cockney mythology that the film revels in gets old very quickly - despite the best efforts of George Romero, Cockneys vs. Zombies is perhaps the first time I’ve really been on the side of the living dead in a horror film.

It’s good to see assorted legendary old-timers given major roles in a modern movie – Honor Blackman, Dudley Sutton, Georgina Hale, Tony Selby and Richard Briers are among the cast, though they are often given embarrassing and oddly demeaning dialogue to spout (I really hope someone give Briers a movie role soon, because I’d hate this to be his last appearance). The younger cast are less impressive, though they do their best with their rather thinly drawn characters. Michelle Ryan sets out to present herself as a future action movie star, though the film doesn’t convince in her sudden transformation into a great shot and killing machine (on the plus side, the story does set up a plausible excuse for the characters to access guns, always an issue in British zombie films).

Cockneys vs. Zombies
has, of course, gone down a storm at festivals, and no doubt it’s a lot more fun to watch with a well-oiled audience of genre fans happy to revel in the clichés. Or, perhaps, if you are a fan of Eastenders.






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