COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 91 mins
PLOT: When a nerdy sorority girl falls in love with a zombie, it's only a matter of time before a zombie apocalypse is unleashed on campus. The sorority girl discovers that weed is the cure--now she must smoke out the entire school before it's too late.
REVIEW: Starting in 2009, The Asylum began going off their beaten path and started producing original comedy fare (this excludes any film they acquired distribution rights to). 18 Year-Old Virgin, Sexpot, and #1 Cheerleader Camp are just a few titles, and their latest foray into comedic territory is The Coed And The Zombie Stoner. I am happy to report it is their most inspired and genuinely funny comedy to date.
Let’s get the bad out of the way as soon as possible. Professor Hagfish (Diane Chambers) serves positively, absolutely no purpose whatsoever. She just complains, gets in the way, and fails to advance the plot or the characters forward in anyway. The ending part with her is also frustratingly pointless, simply taking away from the happy state of mind left behind by the ending proper. Actually, there are a few other scenes and subplots that could be cut out, if you ask me. The whole needing a boyfriend/losing the scholarship bit that effectively begins the plot is awkwardly explained, and Bambi’s endgame (before the whole zombie thing begins to happen) was never made clear. Also not necessary was PJ’s dumping of Chrissy during the first party. I don’t get why she just couldn’t be single, as he being her old flame is of no consequence throughout the film.
With the complaints hashed out (yes, that’s all of them), let’s get to good, sexy, zombified stoner fun that is the bulk of this film.
The movie’s best resource are the two leads. Catherine Annette is brilliant as the chemist/sorority sister lead Chrissy. She talks nonstop, usually about whatever science tidbits float into her head. Annette conveys her character’s ability to only really understand the world through science, and her obliviousness to social cues quite capably. Grant O’Connell as the stoner zombie boyfriend Rigo Fabien has virtually no lines, and thus, most of his acting is facial expressions and body language. Luckily, he has quite the charismatic presence that allows the audience to always know exactly what he’s trying to say, even though he can only grunt. Jamie Noel is bitchy, pseudo-bad gal Bambi. When we first meet her, she seems cartoony levels of dumb, but once the bulk of the story kicks in (read- flashback!) it makes more sense, once we catch up. Spike is a perpetual stoner, with some weird sexual fetishes, that is played to the hilt by Andrew Clements. His timing and deliver were quite on point, and he never failed to make me laugh, no matter the scene. Dora Pereli as bimbo Bunndy and Lena Young as the air-headed valley girl Bibi, fellow sorority sisters, are clearly have a ball, just having a chance to cut loose and have fun. Diane Chambers is solid as cranky old Professor Hagfish, but the movie could have done without her character entirely (as previously mentioned). Dr. Avon is Chrissy’s advisor and mentor, and Louis Dezseran balances just the right mix of exasperation and pride to make his mugging understandable.
Scotty Mullen’s screenplay keeps the jokes and gags coming at a good clip, allowing for a variety of styles in the comedy. Dezseran gets a lot of facial reaction shots, Chrissy and her sorority sisters have some great one liners throughout: “This is an underwear run.” “But… I don’t wear any.” -pause- “Oh yeah! -giggles- Neither do I.” I am not sure if I did that brief exchange justice. Bibi and Bunndy are just so excitable and exuberant that the actress’ deliveries really do make that work.
The Coed and the Zombie Stoner is ostensibly a stoner rom-com, and Mullen has crafted a very believable romance, with a lot of cute touches that make it work. His idea of stoners may rely on cliches a bit, but he does give them some great hero moments though, so I think it balances out. In addition, the zombies are fast and still retain a lot of their personality, which is cause of some hilarious antics. They are still effectively scary when need be, and the detailed make-up is good.
Director Glenn Miller never loses the tone, so even when the major outbreak end sup happening, it's still quite funny. He also edits an amazing dating montage of our leads, which includes them learning to dance together, that recalled to mind “Silver Linings Playbook”, but only better, because seriously, that film was utter rubbish. The song accompanying the montage is sweet and catchy, and works.
While a tad uneven at times, any movie where aerosol-ed weed is a weapon, has imagination. Couple that with quick jokes and a believable romance, and you get a cute rom-com, with zombies! The Asylum has hit their stride, and with each new release, I am only happier as they continue to grow into a direct-to-video force to reckon with.
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward