Cockneys vs Zombies REVIEW

Alan Ford in Cockneys vs Zombies.

It looks like the result might be Zombies 1 Cockneys 0

Release Date: 31 August 2012
15 | 88 minutes
Distributor: Studiocanal
Matthias Hoene
Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Alan Ford, Honor Blackman

While digging the foundations for a new block of luxury flats near the soon-to-be-demolished Bow Bells retirement home, workmen inadvertently open a centuries-old plague pit full of zombies. Soon, the dead are rising all over the city.

That accounts for the “zombies” half of this horror-comedy’s daft title. There are two generations of Cockneys facing up to them: the residents of the retirement home, led by ageing wheeler-dealer Ray Macguire; and Ray’s grandsons, Andy and Terry. The younger Macguires are in the middle of robbing a bank when the outbreak begins, and end up lugging both their money and a pair of hostages across the zombie-infested city in an effort to rescue their grandfather.

It’s a distinctly British film in many ways, from its sense of humour to its smart use of London locations and the soundtrack – which includes a specially written Chas and Dave song. Much of the film’s humour comes from the idea that a Cockney never backs down from a fight, no matter who his or her opponent is. The image of a group of elderly people battling gore-soaked monsters is irresistible, especially given the selection of makeshift weapons they have to resort to.

What makes the film really work, though, is that its script is both clever and warm. Structurally, it’s a classic zombie movie; the fun comes from the unusual setting, the affectionately drawn characters, and the zeal with which the filmmakers tackle well-worn clichés. So the zombies here are pretty standard Romero-style ghouls: they’re dead, they’re slow, they eat flesh, and if they bite you, you turn into one. We’re familiar with them, and, satisfyingly, so are the characters in the film. There’s no time-wasting, no messing about while they painstakingly establish the nature of the threat. As soon as the walking dead show up, they’re labelled “zombies” and an aim-for-the-head strategy is adopted.

But though the characters in Cockneys vs Zombies are clearly genre-literate enough to know a zombie when they see one, there’s nothing smug about this film, and it never winks at you. It’s clever, but not in a postmodern, self-referential way. It just gets on with it. It delivers in every way a zombie movie should: it’s fun, tense in all the right places, and very, very gory.

Sarah Dobbs

Read our interviews with Michelle Ryan and James Moran.

Enter our Cockneys vs Zombies competition.
Watch the Cockneys vs Zombies opening titles, and the Cockneys vs Zombies trailer.