Aaah! Zombies!! (aka Wasting Away) (2007) d. Kohnen, Matthew (USA)
When a batch of super-secret-super-soldier-super-serum takes a tumble off a military truck, coming to rest next to a bowling alley’s tastee freeze mix, the delicious soft serve becomes a brain mush mainline for a young quartet of friends. A novel bit of apocalyptic stage setting, but director/co-writer Kohnen’s clever little zombie comedy earns big points for hitting upon an original take in an increasingly tiresome subgenre by taking us behind the eyes of the shamblers themselves.
Do zombies know they’re zombies? Our infected heroes look at their surroundings – which are now moving very, very fast – and see a world gone mad. Everyone they encounter either runs away in terror or tries to savagely kill them, not to mention the fact that human flesh and gray matter have now become irresistible. They discuss the puzzling situation calmly and rationally amongst themselves ... conversations that amount to so many moans and groans to the living inhabitants they encounter. Viewers are given both sides of the equation, as Kohnen flips back and forth between the “real” world shot in black and white with the infected viewpoint in vivid color. It’s an enjoyable conceit, one that carries the day through what turns out to be a fairly routine undead teen horror/comedy.
The foursome is played with great enthusiasm by studly meathead Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries), his brainy lady friend Julianna Robinson, shy nice guy Michael Grant Terry and cute blonde Betsy Beutler. While all have their moments, Terry and Beutler’s unconventional courtship stumbles off with the movie thanks to the pair’s hilarious lack of vanity and equal degrees of likability on both sides of the undead fence. If you’ve ever wondered what a passionate zombie makeout session would look like, look no further.
I would have preferred the Kohnen screenwriters (Matt and Sean) had resisted the comic antics of a third act bowling competition between drunken league players and Davis and Terry’s decomposing duo – a plot device that makes no sense and only elicits a few cheap laughs – but overall this is a refreshing and sadly unsung independent effort with brains and heart in all the right places.
Look past the terminally lame distributor title (seriously, whoever came up with that one needs to be punched in the throat right now) and enjoy.