Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse
Three Australian telecom tradesman find themselves trapped in a telephone exchange during the onset of a zombie apocalypse.
Another “rom/zom/com” – with less focus on the “rom”, but extra meat in the “com” and the “zom” categories. Taking a cue from Shaun of the Dead… Look, if you’ve got a horror comedy about zombies, the automatic (more current) comparison will be that original Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg team-up. The trick is, can you top that film’s comic genius, legitimately scary zombie horror and heartwarming pathos of the characters?
I personally have yet to encounter a film in the same vein – which exceeds the benchmark that is Shaun of the Dead.
And as enjoyable as Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse is, sadly, it’s not the one to surpass Shaun of the Dead’s greatness.
It cannot break the mold from whence it came.
Three employees of a telephone company; Roy (Greg Fleet), Darryl (Alex Williamson) and Joel (Jim Jefferies) hole up in their office space with a few other survivors when a viral zombie outbreak sweeps across Australia. Among this small band of survivors, Roy’s teenaged daughter Emma (Adele Vuko), her boyfriend Lachlan (Andy Trieu) and his buddy Ryan (Matt Popp). There’s lots of beer drinking, plenty of sexual innuendo (as well as actual sex) and eventually, some action is taken when the group realizes that if they’re going to survive, they can’t stay isolated in this semi-secure building with limited resources and they certainly can’t rely on government agencies or other potential deus ex machinis. They’ve got to save themselves.
Performances are all solid. They’re all gifted comedic actors and their riffing on one another doesn’t make any one of them stand-out – it’s quite a strong ensemble. But, if I had to pick out my favorite, it’s because of one particular scene in the film. Greg Fleet as Roy; the elder statesman of the group is the only actor given the opportunity by the script to dig a bit deeper and go beyond the fun and ridiculousness. There is a surprisingly emotionally charged (performed with a lot of heart by Fleet) moment of levity towards the end of the film; and it hits hard. It’s unexpected, since the film is full of non-stop zingers. But Fleet pulls it off and you’ll be pleasantly moved by the moment.
Knowing that they were able to make such an emotional scene work in the midst of all of this over-the-top zombie wackiness – makes you wish the film would have given a bit more focus to characterization. Not that the characters aren’t all distinguishable from one another, but they’re certainly broad stereotypes. It’s kind of a bummer knowing that there could have been more, if the filmmakers had chosen such a direction.
But in the end, this great moment of heart is sorely out of place. Again, it’s the only spot of genuine humanity and as good as it is (and as good as Fleet is), it feels awkward – simply by its presence. Had we been given more of these true moments, I feel the film would have further impressed.
The jokes run the gamut. You’ve got jokes about the undead, racial riffs on Lachlan (he’s Asian) about the potential use of his “ninja-skills”, plenty of gay jokes and innuendo. Not all of them hit their mark, but overall, the humor is solid – with a few of the jokes being laugh-out-loud funny!
The zombie make-up and splatter effects are really fantastic. It’s a terribly bloody movie, with lots of gory entrails, cheer-worthy head-shots and a myriad of zombie types – from all walks of life. I particularly enjoyed the zombie in the wheelchair.
But… they’re not technically zombies, are they? They’re far more intelligent than Romero’s brand of the undead (using one of their cohorts as a battle ram is a fine example) and can be faster than what is considered the norm (the jogging female zombie was actually pretty frightening). The zombie work – both the actors and the make-up – are a big selling point for Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse. If you’re seeking out crazy gore and zombie goodness, that’s the main entrée for this film.
There are some pacing issues throughout. It’s not boring per se, but unlike other one-location films, this one struggled (not an immense struggle to echo through the ages) to keep things interesting. To retread my thoughts on characterization (or lack thereof), I believe these pacing problems could have been resolved if we had gone deeper into relationships and histories. You can have an onslaught of jokes and rapid-fire dialogue as the basic piece to your film; but eventually it’ll outstay its welcome. We need a bit more.
You’ll find no suspense or “boo” moments in Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse… and frankly, I find that to be a bit of a fail. Even the best of horror comedies still are able to scare us, as well as make us double over in stitches. I’ll again reference Shaun of the Dead as the ideal vision of a success. It’s frightening and funny and contains some true and emotionally charged moments.
Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse is not a failure by any means, as it has the laughs and the zombies pretty down pat – but not much more. It can’t reach the highest of highs, even with strong performances and good jokes.
Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse is currently available on DVD/VOD. Oh, and stick around all the way through the closing credits for some additional laughs.