After a particularly brutal breakup (which takes place over the film’s delightful opening credit sequence), Aussie slacker Dave (Alexander England), frontman of long-defunct death metal band God’s Sledgehammer, winds up crashing on his sister’s couch. While he prefers to spend his days playing zombie shooter
What follows is an unexpected encounter with manic children’s TV host Teddy McGiggle (a gleefully unhinged Josh Gad) and an even more unexpected outbreak of lumbering, flesh-eating monsters that escaped from a nearby American military base. Together, this unlikely trio of adults must protect their fledgling flock from harm and escape Pleasant Valley Farm before it is decimated by a military incursion. If that sounds like a tried-and-true formula, that’s because it is.
As it turns out, the one thing that the zombie genre needed to feel fresh again was Lupita Nyong’o playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on a ukulele. Okay, maybe not the only thing, but Nyong’o’s relentlessly charming performance and rock-solid comedic chops go a long way towards elevating the material. Nyong’o shines as Miss Caroline, a teacher who will go to incredible lengths to protect her young wards, giving the role her utmost whether she is decapitating zombies with a shovel or convincing her students that they’re involved in an elaborate game of tag rather than facing their imminent demise. If nothing else,
Josh Gad also shines as Teddy McGiggle, a bubbly and over-the-top TV host whose off-screen persona is akin to Krusty the Clown. A lecherous, self-centered alcoholic who is only concerned with his own well-being, McGiggle makes for a perfect foil to Dave, who is a bit of a scumbag in his own right. Wildly inappropriate, foul-mouthed, and often mean-spirited, Dave is a man in emotional freefall, and sometimes you’ll wonder why you’re supposed to be rooting for him. Alexander England’s performance is top-notch and so infectiously charismatic that in spite of his continually advised attempts at courting Miss Caroline, you can’t help but smile and shake your head. He isn’t all bad, though; Dave’s emotional arc over the course of the movie is both schmaltzy and heartwarming in the best way possible. With his deadpan humor and good looks, England feels like an apocryphal Hemsworth brother, and if he doesn’t become a massive star then I’ll be even more disappointed than when I saw 2007
Those expecting particularly inventive zombie kills, intense levels of gore, or even seriously impressive zombie makeup may leave