NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB [FrightFest 2015]

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Shaun of the Dead meets Bridesmaids in this disarmingly sweet horror comedy which takes the former's romzomcom overtures and crosses it with the female perspective of the latter. We wouldn't swap leading lady Maria Thayer for the world, but it'd be no stretch to see Kristen Wiig take on the titular Deb without missing a beat.

Waking up after a one night stand with the hunky but uninteresting Ryan (Michael Cassidy) the sparky, frequently annoying Deb finds herself in a world crawling with the living dead. Teaming up with Ryan, the pair make their way to his rich baron dad's mansion, where they hope to ride the thing out in relative safety. That's if the familial bickering doesn't get them first. Dad being played by the tremendous Ray Wise, there's no chance of a quiet zombie apocalypse, that's for sure.

It takes a while to settle into Night of the Living Deb's groove (the initial unfolding of its zombie invasion being a little too reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead's) and appreciate Deb as a protagonist, but once we get there it emerges as one of the most likeable films of the year. There's no denying it plays its comedy too broad at times, and Thayer's constant wisecracking won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a remarkably chipper answer to the gloomier, more miserable horror films we have become accustomed to in our time. The Walking Dead this ain't! Thankfully, as a comedy, it's not The Walking Deceased either, which is a relief.

Its weakest link is love interest Ryan, a bland straight man not helped by the wooden catalogue type playing him. The pair share no chemistry and it's hard to see what one sees in the other. Fun and funny as Night of the Living Deb is, it would have been interesting to see what a female writer/director might have done with the project – even if that's just widening the net to take in a few more supporting lady characters (Deb's Ed-like sidekick isn't in it nearly enough, and the less said about Ryan's monstrous fiancée the better). Thankfully, Thayer gets the support she needs in the form of a brownie-baking Ray Wise and Chris Marquette as his ridiculous gun-toting son (threatening to steal every scene in which he appears).

A romzomcom with real heart and feeling, Night of the Living Deb proves that there's some life in the old subgenre yet.

CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: KYLE RANKIN / SCREENPLAY: ANDY SELSOR / STARRING: RAY WISE, MARIA THAYER, CHRIS MARQUETTE / RELEASE DATE: TBC

 


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