Night of the Living Deb, 2015.
Directed by Kyle Rankin.
Starring Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy, Ray Wise, Chris Marquette, Syd Wilder, Julie Brister and Brian Sacca.
After an awkward one-night stand, Deb and Ryan wake up to find their town has become populated with flesh-eating zombies.
Deb (Maria Thayer) is a quirky and charming young woman who, after a drunken night of fourth of July celebrations, ends up in the bed of handsome stranger Ryan (Michael Cassidy). Feeling awkward and slightly embarrassed the pair say their goodbyes the following morning but are reunited sooner than they think when it becomes apparent that the world they’ve woken up to isn’t quite the same as it was when they went to sleep, as everybody now seems to be munching on the guts of the corpses covering the streets.
Hoping to escape the town the pair make their way back to Ryan’s family home where his father Frank (Ray Wise), brother Chaz (Chris Marquette) and erstwhile fiancé Stacy (Syd Wilder) are holed up. However, it turns out that Frank may have had a hand in what has been going on and as the situation escalates the odd couple of the delightfully ditzy Deb and the spoilt and insecure Ryan find themselves increasingly drawn to each other, if only they can survive long enough to make things work.
Let’s be clear, Night of the Living Deb is not laugh-out-loud hilarious and unlikely to rattle the rather smug Shaun of the Dead from its position as the standard for post-millennial horror comedies, but the light tone and pleasant characters in this film make for a fun time. Much of the fun comes from the lead performance of Maria Thayer who, despite the slightly clunky way in which her character is written, manages to wring the right amount of charm out of Deb and make her a character we want to follow. Ryan, on the other hand, is a bit of a dick but he does have the better share of the lines and Michael Cassidy makes him watchable despite not being the most likeable of characters. However, once the duo make it to Ryan’s home and we get to meet Frank and Chaz the dynamic interplay between the two main characters is lost amidst the broader strokes of a mismatched family struggling to get along, although the introduction of Kyle Rankin regulars Ray Wise and Chris Marquette does help to mix the action up a bit rather than just having Deb and Ryan driving over random zombies.
Thanks to the story of Deb and Ryan’s coupling and the warring family sub-plot the balance of horror and comedy is very much one-sided as the zombies seem to be a bit of an afterthought in terms of being front and centre. Considering the film’s ultra-low budget this isn’t much of a surprise and, to be fair, they are certainly not the worst looking zombies to have made it direct to DVD in the past few years but the gore shots are kept to a minimum and most of the gut-munching is hidden from view. Luckily, director Kyle Rankin is quite adept at keeping things moving along at a decent pace and he uses the camera well, masking any detailed violence without neutering the effect and giving the film the look of something a lot more expensive than it actually is.
Overall, Night of the Living Deb is a delightful rom-com-zom that is likely to become a cult favourite but unlikely to ever break out from the shadow of Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. It does follow Rankin’s previous FrightFest hit Infestation a little too closely in structure and plot but zombie survival movies come with limitations so what the film lacks in originality it makes up for with decent characters and fun performances. It may even bring a tear to the eye with its final scenes but don’t go into this expecting anything too gruesome as it never over-indulges on the red stuff and isn’t really that much of a horror film.
Buy Night of the Living Deb on AMAZON UK
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★