Published Oct 21, 2012Packed full of dry wit and whimsical grit from beginning to end, Cockneys vs. Zombies joins the upper echelons of zom-coms currently occupied by Shaun of the Dead and Juan of the Dead.
Director Matthias Hoene's gut-spilling love letter (literally, more than figuratively) to the colourful personalities of the East End London working class has even more in common with its Cuban cousin than its British brother. It's similarly focused on a group of people with deep historical roots to a specific neighborhood and social class. Where Juan was a bit more outspoken with its politics, Cockneys uses zombies as a metaphor for encroaching gentrification.
Born into a criminal lineage, but forced to fly at least semi-straight by their war veteran grandfather, Ray (Alan Ford, Snatch), brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker, Your Highness) and Andy (Harry Treadaway, Fish Tank) decide to rob a bank to pay off condo developers intending to buy his retirement home, which would force the feisty old man out of the neighborhood he's proudly lived in all his life. In Guy Ritchie fashion, the bumbling but well-meaning brothers assemble a wacky bunch to pull off the heist, most notably an unhinged Iraq war vet with a metal plate in his head and a lust for violence to match Robert Carlyle's psychotic Begbie from Trainspotting.
As Mental Mickey, Ashley "Bashy" Thomas is a scene stealer, but there aren't really any weak links in the fabulous ensemble cast. Even before the zombie outbreak hits mid-robbery, the film moves along at a swift pace, with rhythmic editing and snappy dialogue courtesy of screenwriters James Moran (from the hilarious slasher spoof, Severance) and Lucas Roche (Dead Man's Shoes).
After the shuffling undead show up and the action is split between Ray and his fellow retirees holding off the hordes with cantankerous fortitude and the group of bank robbers trying to make their way across the corpse-riddled city to rescue the beloved old-timers, the momentum is unflagging.
While its sentiments don't go much deeper than "protect your kin" and "don't let mindless bastards push you around," Cockneys vs. Zombies pulses with creative gore and a subversive appropriation of tropes that enlivens one of the most fetid genres around. (Tea Shop & Film Company)