The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"ZOMBEAVERS"

Zombeavers

In 2010, Piranha 3D was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. The movie, which seemed on the surface to be a generic and pointless remake of Joe Dante's 1978 original, turned out to be a gleefully demented piece of mayhem that combined over-the-top sex, gore, and dark humor. It was, surprisingly, a total blast. That same spirit is alive and well in Zombeavers, which, as you may guess from the title, is about zombie beavers. You read that correctly – zombie beavers. Are you on board?

The movie begins with two guys (played by comedian Bill Burr and singer John Mayer) driving a hazardous waste disposal truck. A barrel of sludge falls off the back, rolls down into a lake, and stops in front of a beaver dam. After this brief bit of exposition, we get to the main story, which is about three female friends: Mary (Dumb & Dumber To's Rachel Melvin), Zoe (Cortney Palm), and Jenn (Lexi Atkins). They trek to a lakeside cabin to help Jenn get over the fact that her boyfriend Sam (Hutch Dano) cheated. Sam shows up anyway, along with the other girls' boyfriends. They soon discover that the lake is filled with zombified, flesh-eating beavers (courtesy of the sludge barrel) that are intent on attacking them. And anyone who gets bitten turns into one of the undead buck-toothed creatures.

That's obviously a fairly wacky premise for a movie. Thankfully, Zombeavers doesn't take itself too, too seriously. Director Jordan Rubin and his co-writers, Al Kaplan and Jon Kaplan, fill their story with a lot of deadpan, self-aware humor that's often extremely funny. The whole bit with the hazardous waste is treated as a sly parody of the scores of sci-fi/horror flicks that have used such things as the impetus for monsters since the 1950s. Also amusing are the practical effects used to make the beavers, which are intentionally only a step or two above the ones used to create the gopher in Caddyshack. Even the dialogue is in on the joke, showing awareness of the story's exploitation factor. In one scene, a character has his foot chomped off. Someone says that they need to tie the wound off to stop the bleeding. Zoe offers the top half of her swimsuit, to which the reply is, “No, no, no...too small, too small.”

While there is much to chuckle at here, the film doesn't shortchange on the horror. When the beavers attack, it gets relatively gruesome. The characters try to board up their cabin, forgetting that beavers gnaw through wood. (Another very witty gag.) This creates some entertaining scenes of the creatures popping out of unexpected places to sink their teeth into human flesh. Everything culminates in a grand finale that is deliriously outrageous.

Mixing comedy and horror is difficult, but Zombeavers largely gets it right. The film works as both an original spin on the zombie myth and as a satire of the undead genre's tropes. The performances are far better than you'd expect, and it's a nice spin that the females are a lot smarter/fiercer than the males. Rubin deserves credit for being willing to embrace such an outlandish concept. Yes, the premise is goofy, but the movie commits to it, which makes all the difference in the world. There's a sense of you-never-know-what-will-happen-next fun that is difficult to resist.

Zombeavers knows exactly what its core audience wants. It's got sex, nudity, hot girls running around in various states of undress, interesting creatures, creative kills, blood and gore, and lots and lots of puns revolving around the word “beaver.” If the idea of zombie beavers appeals to you, don't miss it (and stick around after the end credits for a clever spinoff idea). Zombeavers is a fine example of how enjoyable bonkers horror can be.

( out of four)


Zombeavers is rated R for horror violence/gore, crude sexual content, graphic nudity, and language throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 17 minutes.


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