Into a genre that some observant folk may refer to as over-crowded comes the latest zombie film, but the difference this time is that there are cockneys! Lots and lots of cockneys. The story follows brothers Andy (Treadaway) and Terry Macguire (Hardiker) as they try to rob a bank in order to use their stolen loot to stop the closure of their grandfather’s retirement home. But despite their honourable intentions and some solid planning, their heist is abruptly interrupted by the zombie apocalypse. After fighting their way back to a secure warehouse, the group decides that it needs to go and save the old folk at the old people’s home who are blockaded in the kitchen trying to fight off zombies.
While the story of a zombie apocalypse isn’t exactly fresh (just like the rotting corpses then), Cockneys vs Zombies does at least manage to bring something new to the table by going for a bit of a George A Romero by way of Guy Ritchie angle as well as throwing in some pensioners wielding machine guns for good measure. It also manages an original take on the beginning of the outbreak by having the zombies originate from an old tomb from back in the 1600s rather than go for any of the government experiment/angry monkey business.
Ford steals the show as one of those aforementioned machine gun wielding pensioners and the two boys' grandad, although I can only ever really see him as Bricktop. But this is by no means a bad thing given that Bricktop vs Zombies would probably make for a great film in its own right and this is essentially what half of the the plot boils down to. Notable mentions also go to Briers and Blackman as fellow pensioners, who are both highly entertaining. The rest of the cast perform well without ever really excelling; in all honesty, it is the older generation who really add the spark to the film. The youth are given the task of being a bit cockney and shooting guns, and this they perform admirably.
As with most zombie films, there is plenty of gore on show and there are some reasonably inventive deaths for both the living and the undead. But along with the gore, there are plenty of funny moments. This isn’t really a full on “zom-com” as in Shaun of the Dead, but more in line with the comedy elements of Snatch or Lock Stock. Though one scene involving Briers escaping from zombies is hilarious and I won’t spoil it here, but you will know it when you see it and you will laugh.
There are some nice creative flashes from director Hoene, perhaps most notably the opening credits sequence – a very stylish, comic book-esque disaply all set to the music of The Automatic’s Monster. Elsewhere he keeps it simple but gets nice and visceral when it comes to the offing of zombies. Hoene has spoken of how the zombies are something of an allegory for the changing face of East London and how old communities are being dismantled in favour of newer buildings and developments, and this comes through in the film.
The film loses a bit of steam in the second act, when the gang find themselves in a warehouse, which is a shame after a solid opening. The attempt to flesh out the characters a little just slows down the pace too much. However, with a thoroughly satisfying conclusion, the flabby middle is not enough to derail it from being an action-packed, gory, funny and very enjoyable film.