Canadian Film Festival: ‘A Little Bit Zombie’ singlehandedly brings Canadian Cinema back to life
Directed by Casey Walker
Written by Christopher Turner and Trevor Martin
A great film is one that seems new ever time you watch it, and although Casey Walker’s Canadian horror comedy, A Little Bit Zombie, isn’t something we’ve never seen before, it nevertheless rises to the level of greatness due to it’s inherent ability to embrace and transcend tired genre conventions. Smart, well crafted, and painfully funny, A Little Bit Zombie not only reanimates the zombie genre, it singlehandedly brings Canadian Cinema back to life.
Unaware of an apparent zombie epidemic, a mild mannered Human Resource manager goes on a family vacation to his cottage with his inescapable Bridezilla-to-be, his indignant sister, and his insolent brother-in-law. After been bitten by an infected mosquito (you read that right), he has to fend off his cerebral eating urges, deal with two antithetical zombie hunters, and at the same time, struggles to hold onto an already fragile family bond.
Instead of focusing on the dangers of the undead, the film decides to focus on the family dynamics of Steve, the HR guy, and his family. Faced with his sudden affliction, Steve must rely on his family’s support, and they, in turn, must momentarily forgo all past differences in order to protect their equally beloved Steve. It’s like an old 1950’s sit-com, just with a little bit more zombies. This brings an unexpectedly heartwarming dimension to a genre that’s typically populated with coldblooded antics.
Intentionally illogical, overtly vulgar, and deliciously disgusting, A Little Bit Zombie succeeds because it never takes itself too seriously. The characters are deliberately generic, while the acting is amusingly tawdry (Kristen Hager and Stephen McHattie, however, give sardonic, stand out performances). Because they are written so well, the characters are compellingly endearing, making us care for them and their fates. The conversations between the characters are endlessly funny, with family politics and constant, brusque altercations being the heart of the rom-zom-com romp.
But where the true humour lies is in the film’s unrelenting horde of gags and set pieces, which come fast and furious, simultaneously making you convulse with laughter while cringing with delightful disgust. One scene in particular, which involves a rabbit, makes you guilty for laughing so hard.
If George A. Romero is your idea of a cinematic god, then Walker and his A Little Bit Zombie is a showcase of iconoclastic blasphemy. Borrowing Romero’s gruesome and gritty filmmaking formula, Walker turns them on its head to play them for cheeky, impudent laughs. And, oh boy, are there laughs.
As previously described, A Little Bit Zombie is not daringly original, feeling like the unholy offspring of Hobo With A Shotgun and Shaun of The Dead. There’s even a clever reference to Edgar Wright’s original zombie flick satire (the quick zoom, quick cut effect). Despite this, and some would say because of this, the film still makes you laugh, and still leaves you entertained. It doesn’t deny its roots; instead, using it as a basis to build their own monumental tribute to the horror films we all know and love. By straddling the line between a cleverly sarcastic wit and a knowingly sarcastic tone, A Little Bit Zombie is a film with an incredible amount of brains (commence drooling).
– Justin Li