DIRECTOR Kyle Rankin WRITER Kyle Rankin; Andy Selsor STARS Maria Thayer; Michael Cassidy; Ray Wise DVD 2 May
If there’s one subgenre of horror that has surely reached saturation point, it’s the zombie film. Yet time and again, it proves to be a robust and continually relevant aspect of horror cinema, with its ability to speak of various social and political issues and knack for cross-pollination with other genres. Following on from the likes of Warm Bodies (2013), Boy Eats Girl (2005) and Shaun of the Dead (2004), Night of the Living Deb is the latest amalgamation of typical zombie movie conventions with those of the romantic comedy. A zom-rom-com, if you will. While it doesn’t really offer viewers anything they haven’t seen before it still endears with its misfit characters, witty script and quirky sense of humour.
Waking up to raging hangovers and awkwardness after a drunken one-night stand, Deb and Ryan (Maria Thayer and Michael Cassidy) discover that the local population has become a horde of ravenous zombies. The screenplay derives its humour from throwing two seemingly very incompatible people into a weird situation and then sitting back to observe how they fare. Of course, this being a romcom, we know the initially mismatched couple are, sooner or later, going to fall for each other. Seeing exactly how that happens, and revelling in the various fireworks that ignite along the way as they attempt to cope in each other’s company, is par the course.
Luckily, Night of the Living Deb, while boasting a far from original premise, has a great cast (Ray Wise in particular, delights as Ryan’s villainous father) and an enjoyably farcical screenplay working in its favour. A comic, upbeat tone is maintained throughout, while the chemistry between the leads is genuinely charming and the dialogue features more one-liners than you can shake a severed arm at. While the pace falters in the second act, the energy of the cast carries it along to a suitably sweet climax.