Directed by: Kyle Rankin
Starring: Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy, Chris Marquette, Ray Wise, Syd Wilder, Julie Brister
On the night before 4th of July, Deb Clarington, drunkenly hooks up with Ryan, a handsome young guy who has just split up with his long-time girlfriend after they got into a fight. The next morning, Ryan is in remorse over their one-night stand and just wants her to leave, but as they go their separate way they find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. As they try to meet up with their families, Ryan and Deb learn a lot more about each other as well as too much information about what started the zombie outbreak...
Horror comedy (or, if you will, comedy horror) is one of the most difficult genres to pull off successfully. In fact the total number of successful ones, ie those that have an equal amount of genuine scares and laugh out loud moments, is probably less than ten. Night of the Living Deb isn't a successful horror comedy - it's a very funny film that just happens to be set in a zombie apocalypse, putting it in the same league as Sean of the Dead.
We start off on the eve of 4th of July celebrations (so, um, 3rd of July...). The dialogue is pretty snappy and funny throughout the bar scene, with Deb inveigling herself into the middle of Ryan and his girlfriend Stacy. I was very much reminded of the writing style of tv sitcom New Girl in these scenes.
The Morning After segment focusses more on Ryan being uncomfortable having this stranger (who he may or may not have actually had sex with the night before) in his house and does his best to get rid of her as quickly as possible. She of course has other ideas and feelings about their situation. Michael Cassidy does a great job of using the pregnant pause and bewildered look as he tries to keep up with Deb's trains of thought.
The zombies mostly keep to the classic depictions, slowly moving and chomping down on human flesh. Night of the Living Deb distinguishes itself by being one of the few zombie movies set in a world where everyone knows what a zombie is. But this in itself leads to some misconceptions and nicely sets up the film's climax.
The chemistry between the cast members is excellent. Not only do Deb and Ryan make a great comedy pairing, but adding Ray Wise and Chris Marquette makes it even better. Especially Chris Marquette, who plays Ryan's younger brother Chaz. The sibling rivalry between the two is very funny. Ray Wise brings the evil charm as Ryan and Chaz' father. Maria Thayer is a great lead. Adult Swim fans may recognise Maria from the comedy series Eagleheart. She succeeds in bringing a quirkiness to Deb which, again, reminded me of New Girl (this is not a bad thing at all).
Once more here is a film which tries to tie into current media trends, by having people making their own video comments about a tv broadcast. There is more of a ring of truth to these scenes than I've seen in other films but I still consider it a stretch. This is a zombie movie, and thankfully Night of the Living Deb doesn't skimp on the red stuff. There are some strong moments of gore, mostly some good head-shots.
Zombie comedies don't come much funnier than this. The dialogue is witty and there are some great visual gags (my favourite being some graffiti Deb and Ryan pass in the street). There is enough red stuff to satisfy horror fans but not so much to put off anyone else. Recommended.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)
Night of the Living Deb is part of the new online collection by Frightfest Presents, and will be available from Monday 19th October 2015.