Twitter Plot Summary: When the undead rise during a bank heist, a group of gangsters head for their safe house at the coast.
Director: Matt Mitchell
Key Cast: Vincent Jerome, Huggy Leaver, Fabrizio Santino, Charley Rawes, Simon Mathews, Cassandra Orhan, Jennie Lathan.
Five Point Summary:
1. The effects look like they were made on a shoestring. Shame.
2. ZOMG. The acting is terrible. Diabolical. Yet also funny.
3. So are these shambling zombies or runners? Or both? Runners. Definitely runners.
4. Bad ADR! Must have been a really windy day.
5. Wilhelm Scream. For no reason at all. Go figure.
It seems that zombies have a new sub-genre to gorge upon, and that would be the one where cockneys and/or gangsters (which are one and the same to most people) are involved in some heist or similar when the undead start killing peeps. That’s no problem, any proliferation of the tried and tested formula is always a good thing. Different perspectives means different stories and it means we can enjoy zombie carnage for many more years to come in a variety of different guises.
Gangsters, Guns & Zombies, whilst being a totally unsubtle title, is true to that gangster template. A group of smalltime crooks take advantage of the situation in order to rob a bank. Because clearly paper money will have value if the world ends, won’t it? As our crew of gangsters make their way to their safe house (and they spend a stupid amount of time in that van, it has to be said – nearly the entire first 30 minutes are them travelling in that van), their journey is broken up by a number of sole survivors who are dispatched by a variety of the undead. We’ve got doctors, clowns, even a nude zombie just to tick all the boxes. When they discover their first safe house is overrun, first by cops then by zombies, they head for a second safe house near the coast.
Effects are horribly cheap – zombies are covered in day-glow red blood and look like they were put together on a student budget. Which they probably were. Some of the zombies have content lenses to make their eyes look on the dead side (this is a good thing) whereas others do not and look like they’ve just had an accident rather than having recently returned from the dead (this is a bad thing). From a directorial perspective, first timer Matt Mitchell has some good techniques up his sleeve but he’s let down by some sloppy editing. I can see that, with a bigger budget, Mitchell will be more than capable of holding his own.
Despite the obvious flaws there are some good moments, particularly with some of the visual gags (“We should all run.”) and the gratuitous swearing from start to finish, but these moments are too few and far between to aid the cause. There’s a nice little joke with an acronym on the TV, which is then followed by a serious discussion where quotes from Ghostbusters are the focus. It’s this kind of tonal disparity that works against the film. The humour picks up when we meet Cassie and her racist grandma, and it’s here as well that the story picks up and becomes more than just six guys in a van. This is one instance where the film finds its identity in the second half and comes into its own. Good thing too, another five minutes in the van and I’d have lost my patience.
I’ve sat through some really bad zombie films in my time, and there will be many more to come I’m sure, but this is one that is merely adequate and middle of the road. It’s neither excellent but neither is it absolutely terrible. When over a third of the running time is six guys driving in a van then you know you’re potentially in for a rough ride. I can understand what the thinking behind this was, the budget is meagre so you have to limit the action and the effects where you can, but even with this in mind it’s still lacking the certain something that would make it an incredibly fun movie. Lingering shots of people being eaten by zombies need tightening up in the edit, and with all due respect to the script it needs to be 5-10 pages shorter and dare I say it, occasionally funnier. When faced with a non-existent budget you either go for the jokes or go for the gore. This film sits on the barrier between the two, flipping off both sides and being quite content to do its own thing. Whilst it doesn’t work on all levels, I’m intrigued to see what both the cast and Mitchell do next.
Favourite scene: Grandma goes ape on the undead.
Quote: “Remember the rules: Sever the head, Have an escape route, Isolate the infected, Travel by day.”
Silly Moment: The Medieval re-enactment zombies. Daft but amusing.