At this point, no one could fault you for assuming that the horror genre had exhausted the zombie. Just about everything under the sun has been done with the undead monster. Slow-moving, fast-moving, horror comedies, romantic comedies, and social commentary on a range of social ills – the zombie has been played out. Or has it? Ask yourself, have you ever wondered what it would look like if beavers turned into zombies? Odds are fairly decent that it’s an idea that you’ve never considered. And probably for a good reason. But that didn’t stop the makers of Zombeavers for unleashing this horror-comedy with an obviously heavy emphasis on the comedy. So is Zombeavers the fun Friday night horror movie to which it aspires? Or is it just a bad movie?
When a truck transporting toxic waste hits a deer on a remote road, one of the canisters falls into a lake and infects a beaver dam. Later, three girlfriends – Mary, Zoe, and Jenn – arrive for a weekend getaway at Mary’s family cabin. With no boys and no cellphone connection, Mary and Zoe hope to distract Jenn from her boyfriend’s recent cheating. But nothing goes according to plan, First, the boyfriends – including Jenn’s ex – crash the party. And then mutated, undead beavers attack.
Zombeavers is Stupid Fun in All the Right Ways
Not surprisingly, Zombeavers is a completely stupid movie. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Expect a lot of “beaver” jokes in Al and Jon Kaplan’s screenplay (director Jordan Rubin shares writing credits). One angled camera shot even captures a zombi-fied beaver lunging towards the crotch of a bikini-clad victim. Later a mutant beaver bites off a cheating boyfriend’s penis. While it’s obviously silly and lowbrow, Zombeavers’ jokes mostly hit their marks without feeling tasteless or too broad. Director Jordan Rubin also maintains an affable tone from the movie’s opening banter among its clueless truck drivers. Clearly, Zombeavers doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you. And at just under 90 minutes, Rubin avoids falling into a repetitive cycle. In fact, Zombeavers manages to flip the script on your expectations of who lives and dies.
Expect a lot of “beaver” jokes in Al and Jon Kaplan’s screenplay…
Where Zombeavers really scores is with its intentionally B-flavoured creature and gore effects. No one is really going to frightened by zombie mutants. And that’s not the point. Rather than going with cheap CGI effects, effects artist Mark Rappaport created animatronic zombie beavers that strike a perfect note. Yes, they look ridiculous. But the effects align perfectly with the movie’s warped sense of humour. Arguably, Zombeavers greatest achievement was the unexpected mutant “human-beaver” hybrid effects. You don’t see it coming, it’s completely over-the-top, and the effects pull it off. With a decent helping of gratuitous nudity and gross-out gore, this horror-comedy never strays too far off its target. Additionally, Zombeavers doesn’t “look” like a cheap, low-budget outing.
Zombeavers Surprises With Likeable Cast and Good Performances
Where Zombeavers gets a surprising boost is its likeable cast and better-than-expected performances. Animal Kingdom fans will recognize a younger Jake Weary. And Days of Our Lives alum Rachel Melvin shines as best friend, “Mary”. Like Rider Strong tried with Cabin Fever, Disney’s Zeke and Luther star Hutch Dano attempted the leap to adult roles as cheating boyfriend, “Sam”. To his credit, Dano mostly pulls it off, capturing the right balance of young male oafishness and skeezy required of the character. Yet if there’s a standout amongst the cast, it’s Courtney Palm playing the “bad girl”, “Zoe”. Palm turns in a charismatic performance that benefits from a screenplay that gives the character more to do than one might expect. Not all the performances exceed expectations. Some of the actors will probably languish in much lesser low-budget horror fare in the future. And eagle-eyed viewers might wonder if they did indeed spot John Mayer in a small role. Yes, it’s Mayer in what could be one of the most random cameos in recent memory.
Zombeavers Better Than It Has Any Right To Be
If you’ve avoided watching Zombeavers based on its poster or just the title itself, you’re not alone. But here’s the thing – Zombeavers is actually a pretty fun horror-comedy movie. Yes, it’s often juvenile as expected. No one is going to confuse it with What We Do In The Shadows or Shaun of the Dead. Still it’s exactly the kind of movie that you want to watch with a group of likeminded horror fans while having a few drinks. The silly humour, intentionally cheap-o visual effects, over-the-top gore – it all works in a movie that never takes itself seriously and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Believe it or not, Zombeavers is a whole lot of fun.