Me and My Mates vs. the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Starring: Jim Jefferies, Adele Vuko, Alex Williamson, Matthew Popp, Gregg Fleet and Andy Trieu.
Written & Directed by Declan Shrubb.
Out now on UK DVD from Matchbox Films
“Three Australian telecom tradesman find themselves trapped in a telephone exchange during the onset of a zombie apocalypse.”
It’s a brave writer who takes on the zom-com. Given that any film combining zombies and humour is going to be compared to Shaun of the Dead (2004), an established masterpiece of humour and horror in the niche that is the zom-com genre, the chances of doing something that exceeds what has gone before are somewhere between slim and negligible.
And yet Me and My Mates vs. the Zombie Apocalypse does its job very well. It doesn’t go beyond Shaun of the Dead, but it doesn’t look out of place in such respected company. It’s a comedy horror that manages the rare feat of being both comedic and horrific.
The film was written and directed by Declan Shrubb, a screenwriter, director and musician. Shrewdly Shrubb has populated his comedy film with comedy actors and comedians including Alex Williamson – Alex Williamson Live (2014), #7DaysLater (2013-); Greg Fleet, Thai Die (2012), Die on Your Feet (2013); and Jim Jefferies – Freedumb (2016), BARE (2014), Legit (2013 – 2014).
As the blurb says, the story follows events during the onset of a zombie apocalypse where Australian telecom tradesmen are trapped in a telephone exchange. The language is heavily expletive-laden but, if I was trapped in an Australian telephone exchange during a Zombie Apocalypse, I think my language might also be pretty colourful.
I’ve seen Jeff Jefferies in Alcoholocaust (2010) and I Swear to God (2009) and expected him to be the centrepiece of this film. He delivers his standup with a persona of typical brusque Australian pragmatism. His routines are hilarious because of his simple ability to cut through the Emperor’s-New-Clothes complexity of our contemporary world. Invariably he does this with a reductive and misogynistic observation. Jefferies is the comedian who said, in Fully Functional (2012), “I could never be gay because I could never f**k something that I respect.”
However, the actor who stole the show for me was the brilliant Alex Williamson who plays the hapless Darryl. Darryl has aspirations to be included on the local cricket team and survive the zombie apocalypse and his goals are probably ranked in that order of importance. Cautioning Roy (Greg Fleet) against hitting Lachlan, (Andy Trieu), Williamson says simply, “You can’t hit an Asian. That’s a hate crime.”
And this is the post-modern humour that runs through the film. The characters aren’t particularly sophisticated. They’re regular people trapped in an irregular situation. They want to escape and survive, but they also want beer, sex and a place on the local cricket team. It’s that juxtaposition of their acceptance of the supernatural, played against the way they rail against the irritations of everyday minutiae, that make this whole film work so well.
Credit also needs to be given to the special effects department. It looked as though they were employed more for their exuberance in providing guts and gore, rather than because of their technical knowledge of anatomy and trauma. When a zombie is mowed down by a vehicle in this film, it seems right that the overflow from a well-stocked butcher’s shop is strewn across the road in its aftermath. However, in a zom-com, this excess of visual viscera is essential.
The zombies in this film, or ‘rotters’ as the cast call them, are the slow and lumbering incarnations rather than the fast and the furious variety. They’re more closely related to the slow-but-sure creatures from Night of the Living Dead (1968) rather than the rage-fuelled ferocities from 28 Days Later (2002).
Jim Jefferies, when asked how Australian humour translates for British or American audiences, dismissed the notion of humour having any need for translation. “Funny’s funny,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter where it’s from.” And watching Me and My Mates vs. the Zombie Apocalypse, his point seems valid. In this film you have strong acting, a sufficiently decent plot to engage, and lots of blokey humour.
All these points combine to make Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse a great film to watch, and you don’t even need to be chilling with mates after enjoying a fair dinkum Barbie with a couple of tinnies.
Well worth watching. 8/10