There’s a brilliant Simpsons episode where a character called Homer Simpson appears on a TV cop show called Police Cops. He winds up being a bit of a bumbling fool and so his namesake goes to a meeting with the show execs to discuss why he was created that way. During the meeting, one of the execs is trying to explain where the idea for the show came from and incisively says “police….cops……Police Cops”. Ever since I saw that episode I imagine that’s how the pitches for these high concept movies play out. “Cockneys…..Zombies….Cockneys Vs Zombies. It’ll be like Shaun of the Dead….. but with cockneys.” Unfortunately, it would appear that the film’s creators ran out of ideas during the actual scriptwriting process and the end result is a moderately entertaining film for most of its short runtime, but one which soon runs completely out of steam.
The plot is a simple one, two cockney geezer brothers (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) decide to rob a bank in order to save their old Granddad’s (Alan Ford) retirement home from being knocked down. During the robbery, a Zombie infestation takes hold and traps the elderly residents inside their care home. The brothers, along with their locksmith cousin (Michelle Ryan) make their way through a gore-splattered East End to reach their Grandad and make sure the residents are safe. Queue much Zombie killing and various cockney clichés.
There are some fairly humorous moments early on, such as Richard Briers’ snail-pace escape from the equally slow Zombie hoards, and both the young leads as well as the bulldog spirited OAPs are instantly likeable characters. However, as the film wears on, it all starts to get a bit stale and extremely repetitive. The laughs dry up, the ill-conceived set pieces increase and the defiant cockney outbursts fall the wrong side of the ‘cheesy/funny’ axis. In fact, you can almost pinpoint the exact moment when the filmmakers realised they had ran out of story but still needed to pad things out for another 15 minutes or so. It comes when the brave survivors are making their getaway aboard a double-decker bus and are forced to attempt a transfer to a nearby boat. The only obvious reason for this development would appear to be that it gave the cast an excuse to shuffle slowly away from the zombies and shoot a lot more of them in the head.
There was also a clear subtext being addressed early on in the film with regards to the plight of the downtrodden working class and the ongoing gentrification of their beloved East End. The heartless businessmen planning to knock down the retirement home is then echoed by the zombie invasion as a threat to the proud cockney locals. This was an interesting idea but one which is soon abandoned and never really revisited, instead being replaced by more swearing from Alan Ford and a few more novel ways to kill the undead.
It’s not really funny enough to be a truly memorable comedy and nowhere near scary enough for zombie movie enthusiasts. There’s no real tension built up during the attack and the zombie hoards never really feel like that big of a threat. That being said though, there’s enough entertaining silliness in the first hour or so to ensure the film is not a total right-off and the sight of Richard Briers mowing down a roomful of flesh eaters with an Uzi gaffa-taped to a zimmer frame will always raise a bit of a chuckle.
Cockneys Vs Zombies shuffles onto DVD 22nd October.
Director: Matthias Hoene
Stars: Georgia King, Michelle Ryan, Lee Asquith-Coe
Runtime: 88 min