Directed by Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce
The Pierce brothers have a strange brew in Deadheads. Zombie-comedy is an established genre at this point. The strangeness comes from the combining of bits of buddy comedy, teen movie, and road trip stuff they mix in; parts of Deadheads even feel like a Blink-182 music video, circa Enema of the State. For lurching corpses, zombies are pretty versatile.
This all works because Deadheads has a great premise. Mike (Michael McKiddy) wakes up in the middle of an undead outbreak and discovers two things. One, he’s a zombie. Two, he’s just not as much of a zombie as the other zombies. While they’re lurching, groaning, and gorging on flesh, he’s running, talking, and sick to his stomach. Enter Brent (Ross Kidder), a similarly dead but still talking goofball. The two aren’t quite zombies, but they aren’t human any more either. Stuck between the shambling horde on the one hand and gun toting, terrified humans on the other, the two (and a mindless but suggestible zombie named Cheese, played by Markus Taylor) decide to embark on a road trip to hook up with Mike’s ex-girlfriend. It’s a solid concept, and it works.
Comedy’s already pretty tough to pull off well, and adding such a diverse mix of genres and conventions only makes it tougher. A lot of the banter and dialogue is hit or miss, but Deadheads is the kind of film where you forgive the misses because some of the hits are so great. This has to do with the actor’s performances, which are also a mixed bag. There’s a lot of good comic timing, but there are also a lot of stupid character voices. Where the film really shines, though, is in the physical comedy. It’s got a good mix of slapstick, sight gags, and the kind of gross-out humour at which zombies so excel.
The bottom line, though: is Deadheads good? Well, that depends. It’s a weird movie with a lot going on, and liking it requires an audience to either embrace or forgive a wide array of elements. Honestly, though, I’d suggest giving it a shot. Deadheads is a fresh take on zombies, it’s got a lot of great moments, and it’s lots of fun.
The 6th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 20 though 27, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For complete festival info visit www.torontoafterdark.com.