When a viral zombie outbreak is unleashed in east London, a colorful group of cockneys decide to wage war against the undead.
“Aw fokin’ ell yea!” pretty much sums up the movie going experience while watching Cockneys vs. Zombies. Director Matthias Hoene’s first feature length debut was a smash hit at its Canadian premiere last night. The film is a typical “zomedy”—a term coined by Hoene, in that it is as full of bloody headshots as it is with ripe British humor. For fans of Shaun of the Dead, don’t worry! This movie does not step on the toes of its incredibly popular predecessor. In fact, it was surprising to see how uniquely “east end” the film was. Hoene said he tried to make the movie as a love letter to the east end he spent 12 years in, and this sentiment really does translate into a film anyone anywhere can enjoy.
The movie opens with a scene so typical of zombie movies—the source of the outbreak. This one occurs on a construction site as a worker digs up a gated tomb. Him and a cohort decide to look inside for treasure, but as per course of a zombie film, they are greeted by a chomp to the neck instead. Hoene strategically does not spend much time with this opener, because we all know it does not really matter. What is more interesting is how the zombies are destroyed. The main narrative follows brothers Andy and Terry Macguire, played by Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker, as they prepare for a heist. Plans are set in motion to rob a bank, but their intentions are rather noble. Everyday they make rounds by their “granddad’s” care home delivering hot meals. A notice has been forwarded that the care home will soon by knocked down to make way for the condos. The brothers’ goal is to steal enough money to buy the license on the property so their granddad can stay in his home in the east end.
Alan Ford delightfully plays the role of granddad, the man you may have seen in Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. And I promise he is just as kickass in Cockneys. Other notable actors are seen in the other old pensioners at the care home such as Richard Briers in the role of Hasmish, Tony Selby as mobster wannabe Daryl, and notable beauty Honor Blackman as Peggy. Blackman who was once a Bond girl, still shines as Ford’s love interest and all-around kick ass zombie killer at 85 years old in this film.
So as you may have guessed, the brothers’ plans go horribly awry when their crew is confronted with a mass zombie outbreak. East end London is falling apart at the seams, but that won’t stop this crew. Alongside the brothers are their cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan), friend Davey (Jack Doolan), “Mental Mickey” (Ashley Thomas), and two hostages. The crew, having already geared up for the robbery, is well prepared for combat until a brain-eater bites Mickey. This is one of the best gore scenes in the flick since Mickey blows off the head of the zombie but this face/mouth is still stuck into his arm. Gross. Time is against him as he starts to lose it and his fellow cohort wait to see him turn. The film is brimming with these more conventional moments, but it always has plenty of totally unique scenes. The narrative is split between the story of the brother and the events that take place at the care home in the meantime. One of these events is quite possibly the best chase sequence I’ve ever seen in a zombie movie, EVER! It involves Hamish, in a walker, slowly shuffling away from the even-slower zombie mass behind him. Words cannot aptly describe how great this was. Another notable scene involved a zombie baby who was dropkicked. No zombie was sparred.
Cockneys does have a few scenes that suffer from bad translations. One of which involves two zombie football teams that “still hate each other even as zombies!” Moments like these, although funny in the context they are presented, are easily lost on audiences that are not familiar with east London. Regardless, Hoene was careful to include enough of the east end so that residents can appreciate it, but not too much so that anyone else can enjoy it as well. Hoene very easily navigates this terrain in a way that makes Cockney a film most anyone can enjoy. I brought my father to this screening, and he is someone who cannot stand horror flicks in the conventional sense. He loved this movie. He applauded it for its humor and non-stop action. I think that is one of the best compliments a niche sub-genre film can get; that it is enjoyable for all.
Cockneys vs. Zombies is the film for you if you want a movie that will provide plenty of laughs and blood. It’s a rare treat to get both to the full extent that is seen in Hoene’s film. Movies like Zombieland for instance, are brimming with humor but there is a lack of good gore. Cockneys does not skimp out of delivering the goods in either sense. If you enjoy a good cockney accent, love watching the elderly beat the shit out of the undead, and want a good laugh, then this is a must-see.
Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012)