2014 / Director. Joe Dante.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
When I first read that director Joe Dante was making a new horror film I was spinning on the floor like a punctured soda can. It was great news. Fantastic news in fact. His career had laid dormant for so many years and his previous comeback film THE HOLE was an exciting return that gave hope of more to come. My enthusiasm, however, was curbed slightly when I found out that his new film would to be a “zombedy”. It's not that I dislike zombie-comedies but I do find a lot of them to be laborious and contrived.
In BURYING THE EX Anton Yelchin (ODD THOMAS) plays Max, a young guy stuck in a relationship with an overbearing and borderline psychotic girlfriend. After months of enduring her obsessive and insecure tendencies he decides to dump her. Fate steps in and she is killed while on her way to her pending break-up. Free from her dominating clutches Max moves on and falls for another girl and all seems peachy, that is until his ex rises from the grave and returns to be with him forever.
Joe Dante's films have a certain quality that makes them identifiable from the get go. They're typically steeped in a cartoonish atmosphere and have a rich and exaggerated production design. BURYING THE EX lacks most of those Dante expressions and presents itself as a low budget independent film from the outset, but where it lacks his signature stylings it makes up for with a strong script, amusing story and solid performances.
Anton Yelchin is great in lead role and seems to have a firm grasp on the genre. He presents his character with a casual demeanour, as a guy who would rather keep the peace and be miserable than to rock the boat in order to be happy. He is supported by Ashley Greene (TWILIGHT SAGA) who plays his insufferable ex. Her performance is an absolute show-stealer. She sinks her teeth into this character and gives the film its anchor. Whether alive and healthy or resurrected and decomposing, she lights the screen up with her quirky and hilarious zom-bitch persona and gives Yelchin a hell of a lot to play off. The other two main players are Alexandra Daddario (CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D) and Oliver Cooper (PROJECT X) who are both great, and there's the obligatory staple cameo from the legendary Dick Miller. It's so great to see him on screen.
The script was written by Alan Trezza who also wrote and directed the short film from which BURYING THE EX is based on. His dialogue is natural and witty and he taps into a youthful vernacular that Dante would have struggled with on his own. There are so many great little nuances throughout the film that keep it engaging and offbeat. Max's razor scooter as his primary mode of transport is a nice touch and the ongoing references to classic horror films will keep the genre fans well quenched. The production design is also impressive with actual locations being more cost effective than custom made sets. The whole design boasts bold colour schemes and casts atmospheric textures across ordinarily mundane settings. Dante has effectively lifted a simple and modest film to something very classic.
There is a huge comfort in having Joe Dante back on the scene and he has proven that he's got a lot left in him. Despite stepping into a very low budget type of filmmaking he has reaffirmed himself as a master. He has no reservations sacrificing trademark tropes for new and innovative methods and BURYING THE EX is a fully rounded and deliciously macabre film that will appeal to people right across the board. Whether they're long time Dante fans or are regular passengers on the teenesque zombedy train... it's a hell of a lot of fun for all.