What I'm Watching: Zombeavers
Okay, just look at that title.
Look at it.
Much like Wolfcop, you can probably already guess if this is a movie you want to see just based on that one word alone. It serves as title and description. So what am I doing here? I'm going to tell you if this is any good, or just what is good about it.
So let's do this.
The plot, which no one really cares about, let's be honest here. But the plot is about a trio of teenaged girls who decide to head off to the vacation home owned by one of their parents'. They do this because Jenn just saw a photo of her boyfriend kissing another girl, so her friends Mary and Zoe take her away for some girl time.
Meanwhile, a truck carrying dangerous chemicals hits a deer, and one of the barrels bounces off into the nearby river, getting caught in a beaver dam, and yep, there's your zombie beaver origin story.
The girls do their thing, and Jenn keeps thinking she's hearing things that night, eventually leading to it just being their boyfriends showing up to be dicks. And boy, are they ever. Pretty much every one of the guys is unlikable, and doesn't even try to make you like them. So, that's half of your main cast right there, and you're rooting for them to die.
And the women are, quite frankly, not much better. Zoe has trouble keeping her clothes on, and is generally annoying. I was okay with Jenn and Mary, but about midway through the movie, the Big Reveal is that Mary, the one truly likable person in this movie, is the girl who was snogging Jenn's boyfriend. And I could almost let that slide, she had a moment of weakness, but she barely expresses remorse for it, and once the guys show up, she goes after Jenn's boyfriend again, almost immediately after her own boyfriend dies. Ugh.
That just leaves one out of six people in the main cast that's at least likable, or you can sympathise with. I've talked a lot about how much I hate it when horror movies give you thoroughly unlikable characters to root for their deaths. It's just so wrong headed. You can put a few in your movie, but this much of the cast? No, stop that. They're good actors, but the characters just...I do not care about them. And one of the few I did care, they ruined that.
Zoe spends too much time wandering around topless, awkwardl trying to cover up when other characters appear, and it comes off as more pandering than a natural occurrence. I'm no prude, but it just felt so in your face. Also, there's a lot of beaver jokes. As one would expect. In my opinion, there was JUST the right amount of them. They don't quite become tired, and they are that right kind of good puns without being the expected overdone ones, not entirely. They could've been a lot worse. And really, if you started watching this without expecting a few wince worthy puns about beavers, you may have put in the wrong movie.
So...the characters are a bust. But what about the beavers?
Oh man, the beavers.
They're great. They look terrible. You never once think they're real. You shouldn't. They are effects, through and through. But the puppetry is fun, and the use of them is hilarious. They have such a great presence in the movie, and if you didn't want to see them, feel their menace, and laugh as well, then this movie would be a failure. The beavers are exactly perfect. They're cheesy but feel like a real threat, largely because they're big, unstoppable, and they are THERE. That gives a lot of credence to their danger. I also love that they make the beavers intelligent, and actually plan against the humans, and block off their available escape routes.
Naturally, the beavers are pretty much involved in every great moment, with a perfect blend of humour and terror. The single best moment is towards the end, when the teens are holed up in the cabin, but as the movie has established, beavers are great at digging tunnels, and chew and burst through the floor. As the kids smack at them with bats.
Yes, that's right. It's a giant horror movie take on whack-a-mole, and it is glorious.
It's also great that they take the usual zombie movie route of trying to board up the doors and windows. But can you see the problem here? And before the audience can point out the futility of that, the movie does so itself, and a character even yells about how pointlessly stupid it is. If this movie gets one thing right, it is the tone, sitting perfectly between horror and comedy, and knows exactly the kind of movie this SHOULD be, never taking itself too seriously, and unafraid to poke holes at tropes.
The biggest problem with the beavers is that they are, I assume, expensive puppets. When the kids start attacking them with knives and bats and anything else handy, they are almost TOO gentle with them. Rather than really going at the zombeaver trying to kill her, Jenn just kinda gently pokes at the beaver's snout. I presume this is because they can't be too rough with the puppets, but it does take you out of the movie a little.
Also on the special effects front, and is a great twist, is when the people who have been attacked by the zombeavers turn. And they don't just turn into zombies. They become these strange zombie beaver human hybrids. The transformations are done in that classic style of doing a little more every time you cut back to them, save for a few really good moments of transition they show you up front.
The zombeaver people really bring the movie to another level, and are truly horrific, and keep a movie that would've just been people versus beavers from becoming stale in the final act.
So, the movie has some problems, and yes, it's cheesy as hell, but I *really* enjoyed this. Before the guys showed up, I was having a lot of fun, and I had a lot more fun once the zombeaver attack got underway, and I could stop being annoyed by the teens. Really good effects, and really bad but good puppetry make this a must watch for Trisk fans.
It has that great mix of horror tropes with good moments of gore, and a healthy heaping of cheese to make it go down easier. One of the best Triskish movies that I've come across in awhile. This would have been a truly amazing movie if I wasn't waiting for the characters to die, but it still works as a great throwback to classic 80s horror movies of that sort.
Oh, and one last thing; like a Marvel movie, make sure to stay through the credits, because there's a great stinger at the end that sets up an even more unbelievable premise for a sequel.