At this point, the zombie genre has turned into something of a proverbial zombie, itself. Over the last decade and a half, countless films have become ‘infected’ with the undead. Most of these movies simply take their place among the horde, existing as yet another soulless, shambolic entity with no functioning heart or brains.
Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight is one of the most recent additions to the crowd and, whilst it undeniably draws heavily upon the familiar tropes of a zombie movie, it does so with enough self-awareness and flair to pull it off. The typical zombie sequences in the film are solid and good fun, but they’re also peppered with bizarre, little touches, further helping to distinguish the film from the pack.
For example, the primary villain - and the source of the zombies - is a strange sort of cuboid, chicken monster. It opens the film by shooting some sort of evil, spectral entity at a security guard who is swiftly transformed into a man-eating monster. Once an army of zombies is up and running about, the chicken monster just sort of wanders around, shooting eggs at people - eggs that inexplicably remove all of the flesh from someone’s face instantaneously, leaving their headless body wandering around whilst a cartoonish skull drops to the floor.
This sort of inventive, madcap energy goes a long way towards making Zombiology a little bit special. Did I mention that the film contains some full-blown anime sequences? Sadly, the film’s bag of tricks seems to be emptied fairly quickly and after the first few minutes, it shifts gear into establishing its characters and story.
It’s a good 30 minutes before any zombies show up again. This focus on providing the film with an emotional backbone is great in theory, but the characters aren’t particularly likeable and the plot strands are dull, melodramatic and smashed over your head with the subtlety of an egg that disintegrates the flesh on your bones.
When the zombie carnage kicks off, it’s in truly punk-rock fashion with a scene involving a bratty child. It’s an effectively engaging and funny sequence and essentially sums the film up: when zombies are on screen, it’s good fun; when they’re not… well, it really drags.
The film should be commended for attempting to include some semblance of emotion, but there are several tones at work here that curdle when mixed. Family melodrama doesn’t play very well opposite surreal jokes such as the gang being attacked by a crowd of presumed zombies only to find that they’re actually real-estate agents mindlessly shouting slogans at them and without any concern for the living dead about to eat them. On the other hand, this sort of throw-away cartoonishness frequently has to give way to the film’s attempts at being serious. It just doesn’t work.
Zombiology certainly doesn’t manage to fully bring the genre back to life, but as derivative, as they are, the scenes of mayhem are damned good fun. So long as they’re willing to sit through some slower scenes to get to the good bits, zombie aficionados ought to enjoy themselves (tonight).
ZOMBIOLOGY: ENJOY YOURSELVES TONIGHT / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ALAN LO / SCREENPLAY: NICK CHEUK, NERO NG, CHI HOI PANG / STARRING: KAI-CHUNG CHEUNG, ALEX MAN, CARRIE NG, CHERRY NGAN / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 23RD (US), TBC (UK)