Out August 4 on DVD (USA) – @VentSpleen2014 reviews…
Joe Dante is a horror master and with past credits to his name including Gremlins, The Howling and numerous trips into The Twilight Zone I was looking forward to reviewing his latest offering. There are more examples of films that have got the horror (slash) comedy genre wrong than those that have got it right. Repossessed (horrendous Exorcist rip off, starring Leslie Neilson) and Dracula, Dead and Loving It (that would be Neilson again) two examples that jump, or rather are dragged, straight to mind. It seems such an easy thing to do, take the horror film rules, push them to a ludicrous extreme and then send them up mercilessly. Yet, if you get the mix wrong you just end up with a mess of movie that is neither funny nor scary and will forever consign you to the bargain bin of trashy awfulness. Neither is past cinematic glory a guarantee of success, I mentioned Leslie Neilson earlier, whilst he shone with classics like Police Squad and, some of, the Naked Gun films he has almost ruined his legacy by being attached to far too many impossibly drab and dull projects. Directors can also suffer the same fate, call it a death by a thousand bad cuts if you wish, and as a long time admirer of Dante’s work I was praying that Burying The Ex wasn’t going to prove a waste of time.
Good news fellow Dante fans, Burying The Ex hits the mark with pinpoint gory, and flesh ripping humour in a way only Dante could deliver with. Max is a wonderfully geeky horror aficionado who’s misfiring relationship with Evelyn just wont go away. Max hasn’t the heart to terminate things with Evelyn so is destined for a lifetime of abject misery. It is the arrival of a satanic genie, complete with amusingly nodding head, that grants him his wish and Evelyn is hit by a coach and killed. Only Dante can make a road accident funny and Burying The Ex is full of his trade mark, comic book horror that has made him beloved by horror fans the world over. As Evelyn bursts forth from her grave (you cant have a zombie film without an eruption from the earth) she continues her love affair with Max, this time she intends to kill him so that they can spend the rest of their undead lives together. For all of Max’s faults he is a like able character and despite the increasing embarrassment of having an ex who will not get the hint, he just cant bring himself to dispatch her. Dante’s assured and pacey direction means that the humour doesn’t overwhelm the horror. The scenes in which Travis, Max’s oafish half brother, tries to persuade him to get rid of Evelyn are kept zipping along by the sort of trade mark Dante dialogue that we have come to expect. When Travis discovers Evelyn’s unwelcome return he remarks that Max has “a Tim Burton movie going on in his living room” and Max’s explanation for failing to break up with her are excused due to the fact that “she went all 28 days later on me” It is this sort of understanding and love for the horror genre that makes Burying The Ex stand undead head and shoulders over similar offerings.
Dante can do subtle as well and the increasing number of flies buzzing around Evelyn are not commented on by either character but will not be missed by audiences. Fans of the late and wonderful Christopher Lee will be pleased to note that Max has well known Hammer movies playing in the majority of the scenes taking place in the Horror shop. It is this sort of attention to detail that endears Dante to me, he just loves horror and it shows. Anton Yelchin (Max), Ashley Greene (Evelyn), Alexandra Daddario (Olivia) and Oliver Cooper (Travis) are a pleasure to watch and make the nightmarishly bizarre premise almost believable. Dante only slightly stretches credibility in later scenes when Evelyn is very much falling apart, surely the smell would be horrific and yet Max and Evelyn are able to go out clubbing without so much of an eye brow raised. This does not detract from a hugely enjoyable experience which will delight horror audiences both long in the fanged tooth and those young at heart. Burying The Ex is a kitch and geeky horror comedy that avoids patronising its audience but still manages to bring a new take on the rather tired zombie sub genre. Dante’s vision was to bring a fresh approach to zombie films and he succeeds whilst avoiding all of the cliches that could have derailed the project.
Burying The Ex could have only worked in the hands of horror maestro and Joe Dante holds that title with a finesse that many must envy.
Images Courtesy of Ace Entertainment Films