Since “Shaun of the Dead” set a precedent, there’s been a sheer interest in creating films that are horror and comedy. England has done it twice, now Ireland; and you just know America is attempting to cook something up. I loved “Shaun of the Dead”, it was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years, and “Boy Eats Girl” aspires to adhere to that formula and show the same appeal. It comes very close. “Boy Eats Girl” takes many elements from “Return of the Living Dead 3” and “Cruel Intentions”. But really it’s “Shaun of the Dead”-lite with a hint of “My Boyfriend’s Back”. Nathan is a student at a local school where he constantly fawns for the love of his life Jessica who may or may not have the same feelings. After a slight misunderstanding, Nathan gets drunk, and accidentally hangs himself. His mom brings him back from the grave (When are people going to learn not to use mysterious books to do magic?), and all seems too good to be true, that is until he bites the school bully, and then the s**t hits the fan.
Imagine six degrees of separation ala undead. His attacker then bites his friend, they bite another (talk about a fad), and before Nathan realizes, there’s a full fledged zombie apocalypse on their hands that he must stop, or else. And he has to save Jessica ala “Shaun”. And keep his hunger at bay. I don’t remember adolescence being this hard, but if he doesn’t do something, it really will be the end of the world. Once the film starts going, though, with all the zombie attacks, only then does it tend to pick up and become very entertaining. Image FX who creates the make up really do know how to make truly gruesome imagery, and “Boy Eats Girl” never falls short of that. In its very short run time, it squeezes in a lot of blood splatter, and Bradley’s direction adds to the gore with tension and atmospheric set pieces that mounts the tension.
When it wants to be a horror film it works with very morbid zombie effects, and a story basically consisting of zombies attacking victims and oddly not being intercepted by cops. And when it comes to the comedy, it really does come through. As to whether I’d classify this as a horror comedy, it’s tough to say. Where as “Shaun” was fifty-fifty horror comedy, this is basically sixty-forty horror comedy. Landy wisely splits the movie from Nathan attempting to discover a way to stop the zombification, while the funniest scenes involve Nathan’s two friends Diggs and Henry whom experience the zombie outbreak with many hilarious one-liners (Funniest line: “We’re supposed to make friends, not eat each other! How will this affect my future relationships?”) The funniest scenes are comprised of them attempting to make sense of what’s happening, and hiding. Upon Nathan explaining that the zombification has given him super-strength, and super-speed, Diggs asks: “Can you fly, too?!” The funniest moment is when they’re hiding in a broom closet, and the video store sequence which was both very scary and incredibly hilarious. It was clever, to say the least, watching them trying to figure out why they saw the video teller eating someone, even trying to connect it to a psychological defect.
“Boy Eats Girl” is never as good as it can be, though, if only it’d spent more time on the characters. Landy’s script is pretty basic setting up all the potential people to be eaten, and or sired in to zombiehood, and the characters are never as interesting as Landy tries to make them. What’s the point of watching a movie with characters you don’t give a s**t about? All of the characters are despicable, including Nathan, so when people die, and Nathan struggles with his urge to eat, we don’t really care. Whether it’s low budget, or lack of story, Bradley coasts through the important character set-ups and immediately starts the zombie carnage. Instead of focusing on the mother’s grief of her son dying and using that as a reason to help us get involved, we only see her bring him alive in a brief montage that does nothing to affect us. Much like “Ginger Snaps”, as well, Landy attempts to make a commentary about how parents never really know their children, and avoid their children’s troubles staying in ignorant bliss, until it’s too late. And then turn them in to zombies. I added that last part.
And when that is cleared, there are you usual list of plot holes that are basically never solved. How come no one notices these attacks? Did they just think it was an outbreak of pink eye? Where were the cops? Where did Nathan’s mom go after she tossed over the snake? Weren’t there many other zombies other than their school mates? What happened to Jessica’s father? And the government? Was this an isolated incident, or are they stepping in to carnage in the end? It’s these plot holes and more that linger once the film has ended. It may not be “Shaun of the Dead”, but with enough marketing and word of mouth, it can be a worthy successor. It’s a pretty kick a*s rom-zom-com that deserves at least a viewing. I’ll see it again when it comes to the US.