15th Jun2015

‘Burying the Ex’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario, Oliver Cooper, Ozioma Akagha, Mark Alan, Erica Bowie, Gabrielle Christian, Archie Hahn, Tomoko Karina, Stephanie Koenig, Wyndoline Landry, Julia Marchese, Dick Miller | Written by Alan Trezza | Directed by Joe Dante

BURYING-THE-EX

Burying the Ex is a romantic comedy with zombies, or rom-zom-com as I believe we’re supposed to refer to them. It stars Anton Yelchin as Max, a young man who works in horror supplies shop and happens to be in relationship with Ashley Greene’s Evelyn who whilst beautiful, is jealous, neurotic and annoying. Max decides to dump her but before he can do so, she is killed in a traffic accident. Shortly afterwards, Max starts seeing Olivia (Alexandra Daddario) but is unable to begin a new relationship properly as, due to a curse of unspecified nature, the reanimated corpse of Evelyn has risen from the grave and is very keen to pick up where they left off. The film is directed by cult figure Joe Dante.

Unfortunately for Burying the Ex, it comes hot on the heels of the rather better Life After Beth, which managed to substantially funnier and more charming than anything Burying can muster (to be completely fair: Burying the Ex is based on a short film that precedes Life After Beth, though I would suggest the feature is being released too soon after Beth). Even without unfavourable comparisons however, the newer film is very, very poor. Let’s judge it point by point. Firstly, romance. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the film is its trite and juvenile portrayal of its central relationships, which basically amounts to a teenage boy’s fantasy. Are we genuinely supposed to accept that Max, with his lame scooter-riding, ratty goatee, whiny voice and wet blanket demeanour is so attractive that both women are almost literally begging him for sex throughout the film? Evelyn’s flaws are writ large and cartoonishly, whereas Olivia is less of a character and more of a wish-fulfilment machine. A cool, attractive girl that likes horror movies and dispenses free ice cream? It’s desperately weak characterisation and I felt embarrassed watching it.

Regarding comedy, the film failed to make me laugh on a single occasion. No set piece, no exchange of dialogue and none of the characters were inherently amusing. The writing is leaden and predictable, sounding forced and clunky in the character’s mouths. Max’s half brother, Travis (Oliver Cooper) is supposedly filling the comic relief role but is just awful. I like boorishness and crudity, they can be funny, but only when married to wit, which this character has a staggering lack thereof.

Finally zombies – the film is at least able to deliver a zombie, which is something of a relief. If, however, ‘zom’ is a genre indicator that tells us we might be watching a horror film, Burying the Ex also completely fails to provide any moments of genuine scariness. Evelyn’s zombified state looks the part at least, but we’re never once actually afraid of her. A plus point is the film’s doffing of its cap to several classic horrors that are constantly appearing in the background, but it’s unfortunate that Burying the Ex never actually takes a leaf out of their books and delivers anything eerie or shocking.

So it’s a romantic comedy with zombies that fails to work as a comedy or a horror film with a crushingly inept portrayal of romance, which means I’m hard pushed to recommend Burying the Ex on any level at all. Similar ideas have been done before and considerably better, but weak writing, characterisation and plotting means the film doesn’t work on its own terms either. I get that it’s not the type of film that you’re supposed to take particularly seriously, but even deliberate flim flam needs to satisfy on some level. If it were on telly, I would rather turn it off than keep it on whilst keeping busy; It’s not even good enough to be background noise.

Burying the Ex is available digitally in the UK from June 19th 2015. The film will also be released on the same day in the US, and will be available to download and view-on-demand on major platforms.

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