Trevor is ‘between jobs’. He spends his days avoiding his overbearing wife by hiding out in his allotment shed and painting figurines for his wargames with his agoraphobic friend, Graham, and dreaming of his heroic alter-ego, the battle mage Casimir the Destroyer. When Mr Parsons, one of the other allotment tenants, petitions to have Trevor removed from his disgrace of a plot (he’s not there to grow stuff!) an argument ensues that leaves Trevor with a corpse to hide. Unfortunately, this untimely accident coincides with the zombie apocalypse and Mr Parsons’ return is just the beginnings of Trevor’s problems. More pressing is whether or not he should try and save his wife and her beautiful best friend, who both he and Graham have a thing for.
When one sees the words British Zombie Horror Comedy, there is one film that instantaneously comes to mind: Shaun of the Dead. It is arguably one of the greatest horror comedies ever made and is a fan favourite for horror veterans and casual fans alike. Trying to fill those shoes or following in those footsteps—for any filmmaker—would be a seriously daunting task…one most would probably avoid. Thankfully, writer/director Drew Cullingham had not been notified of this impossible task, instead using a near identical title and strikingly similar plot for his own film…and to my surprise, completely pulls off what is easily the funniest film I’ve seen all year.
Now, I do need to state that there was a lot about this film that certainly stoked by personal bias; I grew up in a colonial English household, I’ve played numerous D&D and similar games well into adulthood, zombie films were my favourite genre in my 20’s, and I was a nerd decades before the world suddenly decided to embrace nerdom. Therefore, unless this film was a terrible mess, I was probably going to like it anyway. It wasn’t a terrible mess. In fact, it was far better than I imagined it was going to be. Though not “ha ha” funny in the typical American style, Shed of the dead is very much a British black comedy that packs in a lot of gore with a good helping of cheese. It appealed heavily to my nerd side—even the intended cringe reminding me of real people I know and still love though I can’t be seen in public with.
The acting was surprisingly well above B, just short of A. The characters were brilliantly crafted and although stereotyped, they had enough uniqueness to remain interesting. We get the useless husband and the basement dwelling fat geek tropes, as well as the slutty BFF and the nagging wife—nothing new there, but their interactions are fantastic, their chemistry great, and the script very real. It was a great change of pace having the film be about misfits and social pariahs rather than that perfect American family trying to survive the apocalypse.
It was an unexpected treat to see the legendary Michael Berryman making an appearance, albeit as some kind of S&M bunny (reason alone enough to watch the film) as well as Kane Hodder completely out of character (didn’t even realise it was him until the credits rolled). Bill Moseley also cameos (twice) as probably the most entertaining character in the film, with killer one-liners about lady-parts and vinegar. Spencer Brown, Lauren Socha, Ewen MacIntosh, and Emily Booth are all fantastic in their leads as Trevor, Bobbi, Graham and Harriet respectively. I could not, under pain of death, pick a favourite…probably due to the fact that they are all intentionally terrible characters—roles that they all played very well or that I hope they played very well. The banter was fantastic, the dialogue genuine, and the tongue-in-cheek typical of that classic British style.
With no discernable ulterior message or hidden meaning about society and zombies and such, Shed of the Dead allows the audience to feel human. It’s fun, funny, and campy while still being dark and bloody; it’s a well-balanced film that is serious about not taking itself too seriously. It’s also clearly made for a specific audience: me. The film concludes expectedly but untraditionally, which made for a good laugh. It keeps the same tone and sense of humour throughout, making it entertaining from cringy start to satisfyingly cringy finish. It’s an apocalypse through the eyes of whom you’d least likely expect to survive an apocalypse, and that’s exactly what makes it endearing and hellishly wholesome. It’s funny but dark, intense but comical, and entertaining without being too gimicky. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the film. I enjoyed every campy second from start to end. It’s far from a perfect horror film, but very near a perfect dark horror-comedy. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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