Dir: Jordan Rubin
Written By: Jordan Rubin, Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan
Starring: Chad Anderson, Lexi Atkins, Brent Briscoe, Bill Burr
UK release: Frightfest 2014
UK DVD & Blu-Ray release 20th October 2014 from Universal
A group of sexy college kids are terrorised by a pack of zombified beavers, during a weekend away at a secluded lakeside cabin.
With a title like Zombeavers, we know better than to expect An American Werewolf In London. Thanks to the mad scientists over at The Asylum, shitty, low-budget creature features have become annoyingly ubiquitous, to the point that we don’t even recognise a decent offering when it’s presented to us in a bloodied, oozing dam.
Enter Zombeavers, a loopy, bizarre and very funny comedy/horror, which utilises a totally game cast and some of the coolest, practical creature feature effects this side of Gremlins to make something worth paying attention to. Shot for a pittance, over just three weeks, it’s the début feature of writer/comedian Jordan Rubin, who hit the zombified beaver on the head by describing the film as something for which you either get the joke, or you think it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard – for what it’s worth, both groups should see it, whether you think it sounds utterly insane or not.
Played entirely straight, and all the better for it, Zombeavers follows a group of college kids who find themselves trapped in a remote, lakeside cabin when the surrounding area becomes overrun with the titular rabid, furry hybrids. The toothy creatures are first introduced through a tightly-edited, zippy little animated opening sequence, which sets the tone for what’s to come. They’ve apparently formed thanks to a nuclear spill of some sort but, let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter when we’re prepared to accept sharks flying around in a tornado, while somehow managing not to suffocate and die. And these guys look much, much cooler.
The SFX – courtesy of Creature Effects, who are responsible for work seen in 300 and Ted, among others – are deliciously gooey from the outset, and they only get better as the film progresses and certain characters become, er, infected leading to some incredible transformation sequences that truly have to be seen to be believed. The first shot of the head beaver, so to speak, is brilliant and when only their tiny eyes can be spotted in the darkness, they actually manage to look a bit threatening too, if you can believe it.
Zombeavers is a fantastically funny film, with a million throwaway lines and not nearly as many beaver jokes as one would imagine. At one point, a certain character actually asks everyone to knock it off with the beaver jokes, while another deadpans “There’s no way I’m drunk enough for this” Yes, there are tits on show and some may decry the slightly sexist tone, but it’s all in good fun and the lads get ravaged, and savaged, just as much if not more than the ladies.
Boasting some fantastic set-pieces – a Whack-A-Mole style sequence involving beavers popping their heads up through the floorboards is truly something to behold – and a premise with far more bite and heart than it has any right to have, Zombeavers is in a class of its own when it comes to low budget, tongue-in-cheek creature features. The young cast are totally committed to the madness, too, and although their accents verge on a bit too Southern at times and their group drama is monumentally boring, they’re all strangely likeable.
Zombeavers triumphed at Frightfest thanks to a late-night slot, and it’s probably best enjoyed at a party with friends but with some truly special SFX, a smart script and a defiantly silly premise, it manages to be one of the best, and dumbest, creature features in ages.