I Survived a Zombie Holocaust, 2014
Written and directed by Guy Pigden
Starring Harley Neville, Jocelyn Christian, Ben Barker, Reanin Johannink, Mike Edward, Andrew Lang, Simon Ward, Mark Neilson, Patric Davies, Harry Love
A young runner, on a Zombie film set, has the first day from hell when real Zombies overrun the set.
Any movie that comes with the tag of “zombie comedy” or “zomcom” will always be unfairly painted with the Shaun of the Dead comparison brush. Last year’s superb Stalled suffered the same fate as did other not-so-good attempts like Cockneys vs. Zombies. Given the movie’s country of origin, comparing it to Brain Dead feels more apt, but in many ways I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is a Kiwi Shaun of the Dead. With that said, it deserves to be praised for much more than just being mentioned in the same sentence as Peter Jackson’s cult favourite and Edgar Wright’s bar setter.
I Survived a Zombie Holocaust will hit home with anyone who came out of film school or studied film at university and their experiences as a runner on their first film set. The runner in question is the mild and meek Wesley, who has aspirations of being a writer and is using this zombie movie set as a way to spread around his script, which is also a zombie movie. After he goes through a traumatic time of mishaps and accidents, a real-life zombie apocalypse breaks out and now he has to go from runner to action hero.
In order for a zombie movie (comedy or not) to work, you have to fall in love with the main characters because you’ll want to see them survive. In the case of I Survived a Zombie Holocaust, Wesley is one of the most endearing and loveable dolts committed to the genre. He is a walking cliché of “dork” and his bumbling antics are nothing we haven’t seen before, but Harley Neville gives a wonderfully genuine performance and his sweet delivery of Guy Pigden’s hilarious script really wins you over. The rest of the characters range from brilliantly satirical to comedically wacky and everyone one of them is excellently written. Even the most hateful of characters has a modicum of charm and they all have their own story and arc. It’s impressive to see and is something that is not seen often enough.
But this is a zombie movie, so of course you want gore – and gore you get. From the blood-filled opening scene of the film they’re shooting to the movie’s own thrilling climax, I Survived a Zombie Holocaust does not hold back at any point with its splatter, guts and infected members. Because the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, the high level of violence is akin to something like the aforementioned Brain Dead (although it never pushes to those levels) but it also has a serious heart and the drama that comes from the characters is very sweet.
As mentioned earlier, it is unfair to compare every zomcom with Shaun of the Dead, but when a movie is as good as I Survived a Zombie Holocaust, it should be worn with a badge of honour. It’s one of the funniest zombie comedies in recent memory (apart from the tremoundous Stalled) and is a great example of how to get the genre right. A brilliant thrill ride that will make you laugh, make you hurl and can even make you cry – even if it’s just from laughing so much.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.