Thursday, 24 August 2017

Ibiza Undead - review

2016 (UK)

Contains mild spoilers. 

If I was to be critical of writer / director Andy Edwards' shameless and rather trashy drunken and debauched Ibiza zombie party, I'd be doing not only him, but you the reader, a disservice. Ibiza Undead is neither high-brow drama, or a pseudo-intellectual exploration of life and death; and it's certainly not high-octane action, or horror, or indulgent romanticism. It's exactly what it claims to be; a cheap, crass, brazen, coming of age party flick that wears it's love of boobs and booze loud and proud. It is, of course, fully aware of what it is and what it's doing. It's as professional as the next, but it's at the party, as well as hosting, inviting the viewer to jump in and share the good times while never trying to judge or preach. That's also not to say Ibiza Undead is perfect either. It has its fair share of issues; but trying an unabashed uncouth The Inbetweeners zombie film isn't one of them.

Setting the film on the Mediterranean number one party island, and focusing on three horny young British chavs on a mission for alcohol and 'pussy', one would hope the viewer would know exactly what they were letting themselves in for. The three are lewd, expletive spewing, penis driven British lads in the best The Inbetweeners way, and just like their hapless cinematic cousins, and probably for the best for all involved, they're just as woefully ill-prepared their pursuit of the opposite sex, what with the charm, maturity and approach of boorish, obnoxious teenagers suffering from Tourette's. They're also delightfully likeable. The instant chemistry the three speak about having off camera, in a short making of documentary, is clearly evident from the first awkward airport scene. Clearly not in an airport departure lounge; Big Jim (Ed Kear) leads Alex and Az (Jordan Coulson and Homer Todiwala) in effortless, effervescent and incredibly puerile and silly banter, and somehow it doesn't really matter. Ibiza Undead is all about the characters; and though there's a lot of them Edwards maintains focus and each has their role as the zombies arrive and trouble begins.

The zombies of Ibiza island are slooooow, and disjointed as if their bodies are aren't entirely connected; and they're being controlled via semaphore, or some distant puppeteer on dial-up. I actually can't recall a zombie quite this comically lethargic or unwieldy, and though the Night of the Living Dead's turn of foot wasn't exactly blistering there wasn't the same un-gamely limb ballet show accompanying their gait. Effort has gone in though, and they are well made-up, uniformly asymmetrical, and compliment the comedy well. In a more serious zombie feature I'd be quite critical, but in Edwards silly little, yet entirely coherent, post zombie outbreak world; with the infection contained and zombies seen more as a myth and not that real or dangerous they work perfectly.

As said, one can't fault Ibiza Undead for all the things it's probably going to be mostly criticised for. If anything it should be applauded for sticking to its guns and keeping up the juvenile humour right to the closing credits. The constant barrage of sexual objectification pejoratives, does get a tad uncomfortable; though it's probably quite accurate, and it's not just limited to the boys with Alex's older sister Liz (Emily Atack), her best friend Zara (Algina Lipskis), and ex Ellie (Cara Theobold) all happy to throw them about. Saying this though it never truly offends, as it's the boys themselves that look weak and silly with each and every barb, with the girls always coming out on top.

Yes it's a film that if we're overly critical about could easily open itself up to accusations of being rather light and lacking in actual substance. It's also definitely a film which uses the story and narrative to set up all the funny little scenes and jokes, rather than the small incidentals acting enrich a grander tale. It also at times utterly fails to hide it's obvious budgetary constraints, with some lacklustre CG and distracting scenery and asides. Yet; and I may take flack for this, none of this really matters. It's a character driven buddy comedy that's authentic to its ideas, well delivered and fashioned with love and care. The making of the film was clearly a party in of itself and this can't help but shine through. Crude, rude and offensive, Ibiza Undead is an antidote to serious and clever, where there's no lesson to be learned or message to be worked out. It's shameless, throwaway fun, and sometimes, that's just what one wants - 6/10.


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