The last film of Horror Month is upon us with perhaps the most dubious of all horror subgenres: the horror comedy. It has brought the Blog Collab memorable highs (Grabbers, Housebound, 3-Headed Shark Attack) and devastating lows (All Cheerleaders Die, Ghost Shark). Which one will it be this time around?
Night of the Living Deb
The zombie apocalypse is unleashed on Portland, ME, giving the titular Deb the opportunity she’s been waiting for to meet cute guys and eat froyo.
It’s Independence Day in Portland…an important day historically for the US to fight off aliens and other hostile non-human life forms. Deb and her bff Ruby are out drinking with the rest of the town in honor of the 4th. Because nothing sounds like a better time in the summer than crowding in an enclosed space with a bunch of sweaty strangers.
Ruby encourages Deb to go talk to Ryan, a guy she’s been scoping out all evening. As soon as Deb works up the courage to flirt really badly with Ryan, his fiancée Stacy interrupts and picks a fight with him. Apparently Ryan is none too keen to work for and inherit the rather shady family business, thus securing their financial future. After the fight, Deb and Ryan hook up, which he immediately regrets.
The next day, Deb leaves Ryan’s apartment without fanfare. Both soon realize that this won’t be a typical 4th as Deb witnesses children feeding on the flesh of their parents and the barista attacks Ryan at his local coffee shop.
Overhearing on the radio that Portland is under a state of emergency, Deb and Ryan team up to find their families. Ryan’s family is in the city, and Deb’s mother has retired to Virginia Beach.
First, the two check in on Ruby at the Christmas store where she works. Sadly, Ruby has been zombified, and Deb vows to end her miserable existence. However, she’s unable to follow through with her plan and instead traps Ruby in the trunk of her car until scientists develop a cure.
Deb and Ryan do make it to his family’s house, where his father, brother, and fiancée are gathered. As it turns out, Ryan’s father may have played a role in the zombie outbreak, caused by contaminated city water.
Things get really fucked up from here on out, as Ryan’s brother, who is in love with Stacy confronts her and then lets her die by zombie attack. Deb has decided to leave after she hears suspicious sounds from Ryan and Stacy’s room. Once she reaches a certain checkpoint, she realizes Portland is now the equivalent of the Hotel California–she’s not allowed to leave, even with the influential connection to Ryan’s family. The state has decided to cover up the outbreak, which would’ve sounded more far-fetched to me around 5 years ago or so.
With Ruby’s help, Deb manages to escape with Ryan and enact an admittedly rather brilliant plan. But is it too late to save their lives or for Deb to (eye roll) fulfill her dreams?
2/5 Pink Panther Heads
I initially liked Deb, but it wasn’t even halfway through the film that my opinion reversed dramatically. Her awkwardness is endearing until it feels like it tries too hard, though I do love her rather ’90s inspired wardrobe complete with jelly sandals and a scrunchie. She’s a hastily constructed character at best, jumping from supposed lifelong dream to another, whether it’s finding love or becoming a news anchor.
The worst, however, are the men (of course). Ryan’s entire fucking family must be a bunch of sociopaths because (1). His father caused the goddamn zombie apocalypse in Portland and coasts by pretty easily without consequence (perhaps the most realistic element of this film), (2). His brother is really trigger happy and lets Stacy, a woman he claims to love, get eaten by zombies, (3). Ryan has no reaction to Stacy’s death AT ALL and lies to her about what happened with Deb. Also, can I point out that Ruby just sort of wanders off into the woods, never to be heard from again?
Considering how horrible 90% of the characters in this film are, the way the zombie apocalypse is played off as a joke in order to wrap things up happily is infuriating. The happy ending (oops, spoiler?) doesn’t feel earned, and I hope Ruby comes back to town to burn it all down.