Don’t sweat it! The zombie virus outbreak is all the way over in Eastern Europe, so this lads’ holiday in Ibiza ought to have a clean bill of health. Well, except for the undead strippers.
And then there are the hundreds of gutmunchers jettisoned into the Atlantic that are now swarming onto the island’s beaches. You know, I’m starting to see why they called this movie Zombie Spring Breakers.
Although really, writer/director Andy Edwards might as well have just called it The Inbetweeners Movie But with Zombies So Please Don’t Sue Us. Edwards doesn’t stop at drawing inspiration from E4’s hyper-vulgar high school comedy and its feature film spinoffs; this British zom-com is pretty much wholesale theft.
First up is the deceptively normal-looking Alex (Jordan Coulson). He’s still carrying a torch for his ex, Ellie (Cara Theobold), with whom he and his mates just so happen to be sharing a rental villa. If you’ve ever seen The Inbetweeners Movie, that’s a retread of lovelorn Simon following Carli all the way to the island of Malia and panicking as she gets caught up in even douchier romantic entanglements.
Jim (Ed Kear) is essentially a bigger, browner version of The Inbetweeners‘ Jay. All the deliriously over-the-top sexual braggadocio with none of the laughs! And, like Jay, there’s the inevitable teary revelation that while he may talk a big game… I mean, I don’t even need to finish this sentence. Az (Homer Todiwala), meanwhile, is a combination of dweeby Simon with Jay’s dim-witted, doggedly devoted sidekick Neil. You might think he’s a throwaway character – and for a long while, you’d be right! – but just you wait.
And hey, why stop at analogues? Zombie Spring Breakers figures it might as well go all the way by casting The Inbetweeners‘ Emily Atack as Alex’s foxy sister.
I’m sure I’ve run all those Inbetweeners parallels into the ground by now, but that’s only because it’s more interesting than anything else about Zombie Spring Breakers.
The camera lasciviously leers at all the bikini-clad bodies, frequently in slo-mo. Strangely, even though exposed breasts are pivotal to the plot at one point, there’s hardly any actual nudity. The zombie mayhem is generally pretty routine, at least when you can see it. The undead assault inside a nightclub is shot against a strobe light that renders the whole thing just about completely indiscernible. Alex and company hardly ever dispense of the undead in dementedly creative ways. A glowstick through the eye is about as close as Zombie Spring Breakers gets to the heights of, say, the death-by-record-collection in Shaun of the Dead.
Part of me wishes that the movie had decided to pal around more with Liz, Zara, and Ellie. Those three ladies are a whole lot more personable and likable than the male leads. It’s transparent what the movie’s trying to recapture from the clueless yet lovable pricks from The Inbetweeners. It’s just that Alex and Jim in particular are such insufferable arses that I kind of just want them to go away.
While Matt King is clearly having a blast hamming it up as nefarious, un-closeted badnik Karl, the movie’s never really sure what to do with him. It also defies logic somewhat that Karl is shelling out staggering sums of money importing zombies for a geek show in his popular club, and yet it somehow escapes the attention of the authorities. Of course, I don’t know how much it’s worth fretting about logic in a flick called Zombie Spring Breakers.
To be fair, the movie has its moments, from a dude wielding a girl who in turn is wielding a machete, to subtitles reading “[too rude to translate]” during a Brazilian rant. It exacts revenge on the persistent male gaze by having a female zombie chomp on a dude’s genitals. Zombie Spring Breakers so faithfully breezes through all the usual undead tropes that it can be surprising near the end when it upends several clichés. Far more frequently, it suffers from the traditional curse of the horror-comedy, where neither the jokes nor the scares land all that well.
Zombie Spring Breakers has made the rounds on DVD, both abroad (as Ibiza Undead) and domestically. It hasn’t shambled its way onto Blu-ray anywhere the world over, as best I can tell, so you’re probably better off streaming it on Hulu instead.