First, it is a movie about beavers becoming zombies, and while the concept contains the ridiculous proportions, and logic, all that silliness actually brings an entertaining but short waste of time (77-minutes runtime), and sometimes that is just what a horror movie needs to do, to satisfy the basics without all the seriousness. The zombie subgenre continues to produce constant reminders of the zombie apocalypse, within cities overrun by the hordes to the countryside of stumbling living dead looking for the Walking Dead series set, showing there’s no letup to the feeding frenzy of the zombies. Therefore, director Jordan Rubin, debuts his first horror film, with television screenwriter Al Kaplan, deliver his first feature length screenplay for a horror movie, though he also served as composer for this film. This duo make the smart of never taking their film too serious, rather, have a playful time with it, but uses a subtle point in the opening sequence to explain the creation of this beasties, through a toxic waste splatter accident. Nevertheless, the film generates some joy in a genre of desolate destruction from zombies, and with excessive gore.
Rubin’s film wastes no time in spilling the insanity with contaminated containers toppling into a riverbed and feeding beavers with dangerous chemical, creating the beasties. The beginning of the film relates back to the classic Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of The Living Dead (1985) and this propels the story forward allowing the serious horror fans some incredible moments of gore and laughs. Next, add in a family cabin in the woods, a nearby lake and sorority sisters Zoe (Cortney Palm), Mary (Rachel Melvin), and Jenn(Lexi Atkins) stripping down to bikinis and a tad less, everything gearing itself for a solid foundation for the horror. A chance encounter with a woodsy hunter named Smyth (Rex Linn), who just nails his role, and never backs off the sheer enjoyment his character provides, creating a hoot for the viewer. Then mix in some male friends Tommy (Jake Weary), Sam (Hutch Dano), and Buck (Peter Gilroy) with more bizarre antics, and it all adds to the body count. As a typical horror movie, the young adults violate all the rules, multiple sins committed and the beavers ready to beat down the door and munch on the guests, at an increasing rate. Now one cannot understate the great human transformations of not just zombies but a cross-breeding, which has a creepy effect echoing the screams on screen and the laughs from the viewers, this offsets the less realistic beavers. Yes, the crude jokes exist, and a dozen of oddly created moments, such as the whack-a-beaver game, and the facial enhancements of large beaver teeth, the mentality stays firmly in a muddy creek bed (aka: gutter), it is not Tucker and Dale versus Evil (2010), a tad lower, think Lumberjack Man (2015). Dano, owns every scene he’s in, portraying his character Sam, with gusto, delivering many excellent one-liners, and some of them ad-lib, along with fine natural timing for his comedic performance. Sometimes, a horror movie requires a person to turn off their brain, and just enjoy the blood splattering, fur flying, teeth chomping, gore inducing nonsense to wash over them.
The horror comedy subgenre, tends for a difficult path, the equivalent of driving on ice, at a high rate of speed, while blindfolded, not a easy trick, many have tried it in the zombie market, few earn success, most notable though Shaun of the Dead. Cockneys vs. Zombies had some moderate gains, but mostly in the international market, due the references in the film, and sadly Zombeavers does not gain much traction in the field, though the homage comes along in waves from Die Hard and The Thing as well as many others.
The balance of horror and comedy a very delicate aspect in filmmaking, as previously mention, and with the humor layered in crass jokes and the few innuendo remarks lower the perception for the audience’s enjoyment. Rubin’s short on standard horror running; he piles in the cult reference points, trying to shore up the letdowns with some the stale dialogue sequences. As for the effects, the majority of them fall in the old school trend of practical, a refreshing maneuver for a modern film, and really, helps save this flick.
If you enjoy, nature revenge movies, with a zombie flair, and hillbilly humor, then remember to dismiss rational thinking and indulge yourself with insanely silly moments (though they don’t continuously exist throughout the movie). The film opens itself to gallons of blood, and some T&A, never taking itself seriously, and welcomes the possibility of a sequel, after all many of the nature beasts have red glowing eyes and add to the death toll.