Me And My Mates Vs. The Zombie Apocalypse sets masculine-driven comedy to an apocalyptic backdrop, where beer-guzzling Aussies dish about wanking, toss around insults and make inappropriate jokes in the face of certain death. Case and point: naked chicks run away from walkers/runners while their breasts bounce chaotically, as two paintball dudes hornily leer instead of offering help. What, the apocalypse can be sexy!
Writer/Director Declan Shrubb’s cheeky sophomore feature certainly doesn’t care about being politically correct (hence Jim Jefferies’ casting), but this focus on T-and-A comedy sometimes forgets to construct horror scenarios geared towards learned genre fans. Laughter isn’t the issue here – it’s whether you’ll be able to stomach a tremendously lax attempt at gory, over-the-top infection horror.
Shrubb’s doomsday hangout takes place in a telecommunications building where three workers are holed up. Joel (Jim Jefferies) and Darryl (Alex Williamson) prep their makeshift bunker with what little supplies they can gather (wire, a shotgun, beer), and are later met by their mate Roy (Greg Fleet) and his daughter Emma (Adele Vuko). The plan is simple – camp out and wait for a big black helicopter to arrive. Advancing hordes of zombies await outside, and there’s cold brews to be drank from behind a security-locked door. Seems like a perfect little vacation from humanity, right? It is, until a host of mishaps lead to the zombies getting past every security measure.
And by “mishaps,” I mean ridiculously silly situations that aren’t dealt with very much intelligence or survivalist mentalities. One character dies because the armful of fireworks he’s holding gets ignited by the single rocket that mistakenly flies his way. Two military jar-heads stand completely still as a horde of zombies stand around them – in a circle – and then pounce once dialogue wraps up. Hell, one “mate” decides that staying behind to become zombie-chow sounds better than hopeful escape! You get the idea. There’s a whole list of oddities for ravenous zombie fans to pick apart, even if intentions are purely comical.
Humor exists not to counterbalance more horrific moments, but to dominate what can essentially be considered a straight-forward comedy. In some moments, this works. Jefferies is as snap-witted and funny as ever, offering insults like “you’re as coordinated as a stillborn giraffe!” while levels of inebriation heighten. Other gags suffer under the false pretense of “comedic horror” though, like Greg Fleet’s pre-infection screening technique involving ballsacks or Matt Popp (playing Emma’s boyfriend’s bro) constantly nagging to watch somebody bone. Sure, zombie nutshots may get a few snide chuckles (they’re not TECHNICALLY zombies, so there’s a more human reaction), but Shrubb’s frat-boy sense of humor just isn’t lasting enough for a film that abandons horror for 90s sex-comedy hijinks.
That said, Shrubb’s special effects department brings some crazy gore despite obvious budgetary restrictions. An early kill falls victim to post-production bloodletting, but an emphasis on practical deaths ends up outweighing digital touch-ups. Think early-80s cheesiness, where prosthetic dummies stand headless while a geyser of blood sprays like a thickened tomato soup. Stomachs are torn apart to reveal a buffet of organs inside, zombie heads are bashed open and fake limbs are thrown around as goofy Halloween decorations might be – yet there’s still a certain throwback charm to it all (especially when Adele Vuko’s character is involved, whose female kick-assery overshadows her male counterparts).
Then again, that same low-budget personality doesn’t translate during more shoddily-cobbled sequences. We’re talking entire shifts in lighting during continual scenes, flips in graininess, and some extremely jarring editing cuts that slice away momentum. It’s the little things that can heighten or cripple a film, and an inattentiveness to such cinematic details can’t be saved by moments of squeamish improv-backed hilarity. Shrubb does what he can with a laundry-list of challenges, but this final product exists in a very unpolished state.
My main issue with Me And My Mates Vs. The Zombie Apocalypse is that it should have been renamed Me And My Mates Dick Around During The Zombie Apocalypse. That, and the humor tragically goes rotten, and the production lacks proper finesse, and horror falls to the wayside – OK, so maybe there are more than a handful of issues. You’ll find laughs, but they’ll be sandwiched between dead-air and some pretty nifty carnage that sadly cannot act as Declan Shrubb’s brutal saving-grace. No matter how hard this dirty-minded, heavy-handed “horror comedy” tries…
Me And My Mates Vs. The Zombie Apocalypse is another indie "horror comedy" that boasts gore and a few laughs, but not enough to excuse the lackluster focus on horror aspects.