Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dead and Breakfast

My Rating: 4/10

Six friends (including Bianca Lawson, Ever Carradine, Erik Palladino and Portia de Rossi) get more than they bargained for when they spend the night at a nondescript bed-and-breakfast in the backwater town of Lovelock. When the B&B's owner and the chef don't survive the night, the travelers are the prime suspects. But the tables (and suspicions) turn when the townspeople become possessed by an evil spirit and besiege the young people in the B&B.
This is not a great movie. In many ways, it's not even a good movie, but if you're bored and have Netflix and feel like watching some crazy zombie-comedy action, it's an enjoyable way to pass an evening and has some very clever bits. Unfortunately, you have to get through the first half hour of utter tedium, where you'll want to kill every one of these young ZombieChow actors. The Netflix print is terrible, in standard def and dark and muddy, even though this is a 2004 movie (Perhaps they were going for the "Made for TV, 1975" look? If so, it was a success...).

The cast is a heap of 20-somethings that you will halfway recognize as "the asshole guy from Suicide Kings" or "the obnoxious bitch from Ally McBeal". You will hate them all instantly. This is OK, because nearly all of them die horribly, so there is payoff. You also get David Carradine and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, "Watchmen"s Comedian, as a redneck sheriff.

The plot is simple. A bunch of lost people on their way to a wedding end up at a bed & breakfast which is run by a weirdo with a magic box. Magic box is opened, evil spirits get out, and soon there are zombie hordes invading the local hick bar and surrounding the B&B.

This movie really, REALLY wants to be Evil Dead/Shaun of the Dead. And it sort of halfway works. It has some great country music vignettes tying the story together (Cowboy Guy introduces each chapter via Beverly Hillbillies-style intro songs), a lot of humor, and some funny lines. The humor is broad (A scene of a guy running in place in a blood slick could have come straight out of a Warner cartoon). The zombies dance and sing. It's actually funny enough and goofy enough that it's frustrating, because it comes this close to being a genuinely good movie but just doesn't quite manage it. The problems seem to be direction and budget.   We know some of the actors can act because we've seen them in better stuff, but here they all come off flat and unlikable and there really isn't anyone you'll be rooting for - It's more, "Oh, look, they've killed the guy in the boots.  I wonder if they'll get Girl With Attitude next?".  The final girl is a complete nonentity - I couldn't even remember who she was in the group, which is composed of "People who are really obnoxious" and "People you barely notice are there".

Bottom line- If you watch it, you won't be bored (except in the beginning), and you will get some laughs and fun out of it, and probably come away like I did, thinking it was an enjoyable 80 minutes but could have been so much more, with only a bit more money to play with and some livelier characters for our actors to inhabit.

Suggested Accompaniment:  Very much a beer and pretzels sort of film.  Keep beer, pretzels, and any associated smokes cheap and unpolished.  Finishing up a couple of beers prior to the zombie dance routine will enhance your enjoyment of said ensemble greatly.