With February being a month associated with love, let’s throw it back with a lovely little romantic comedy! But this being ScienceFiction.com – the home for lovers of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror – it can’t be just any old rom-com, of course. It should have zombies in it, probably.
“Boy Eats Girl” is a film that was clearly made in response to the success of 2004’s smash zom-com hit “Shaun of the Dead.” While this film obviously didn’t reach the same heights (in either exposure or quality), it does have some great high points and great takes on a lot of ideas that other zombie movies don’t pull off as effectively.
The movie tells the tale of Nathan, your average high school student that is a bit of a dork, and who is secretly in love with his classmate hottie, Jessica. After a particularly disastrous night where he not only fails to connect with Jessica but also mistakes her for fooling around with one of the “popular” school boys, he debates hanging himself, even going so far as to stand on a chair in his room with the noose around his neck. When his mother opens his bedroom door, knocking him off the chair and actually hanging him, she is so distraught she’ll do anything to bring him back – including using a strange voodoo book she found in the catacombs of the church she works at. Nathan reanimates and seems normal enough – except for that odd hungry feeling in his stomach…
The story itself doesn’t exactly break any new ground, but it’s definitely an entertaining ride nonetheless. A lot of the action centers around Nathan’s love for Jessica, and most of the plot in the film is driven by this as well. Ultimately, it’s a pretty sweet love story, even if Nathan does “accidentally” eat part of a woman, causing her to reanimate and start the zombie-domino effect until much of the town is overrun. Kids these days!
The movie clocks in at a scant 77 minutes long, which is probably to its advantage, and really doesn’t use any “name” actors, at least none that audiences here in the U.S. will be familiar with (the “biggest” star in the movie is Samantha Mumba, who is borderline-memorable for her singing career and role in the 2002 remake of “The Time Machine,” a movie I very much enjoyed). The comedic scenes were very funny, and the gory scenes were nice and bloody, but unfortunately, the movie feels a little clunky when trying to transition between the two. This film clearly won’t be winning any acting or story awards, but it does an above-average good job of keeping the viewer engaged.
While there have been other movies that try to combine teen-comedy and zombie-horror (“Dance of the Dead” and “Night of the Living Dorks,” to name just a few), this movie has a decidedly “British humor” feel to it, having been made in Ireland and all, making it a very unique entrant into the category. This film also gets bonus points for taking the explanation of its zombies back to the “roots” of the zombie, relying heavily on voodoo elements to explain how the reanimation works.
It does seem, at first glance, like a lot of the teens in this movie react in a “realistic” way to their classmates reanimating and their world turning upside-down in front of them, but upon closer inspection, a lot of the characters’ actions just don’t make sense. A lot of folks make really bad choices, like continually trying to reason with the zombies, or pounding on a door to be let in only to have the door opened for them and continuing to stand outside peering around to find the source of the “mystery noise.” Even the zombies’ actions contradict themselves: when Nathan initially becomes a zombie, he says he is “faster…stronger…and I don’t feel pain,” sentiments the other zombies seem to share…until the plot needs them to forget it, of course. A zombie that gets stuck in the hand with scissors yelps in pain; zombies that catch on fire howl and run around trying to put themselves out; and all the “faster…stronger” zombies don’t even come close to catching Nathan’s Mom, who casually meanders in, out, and around her car in the climactic scene. Too many inconsistencies here to outweigh the moments of true realism and emotion some characters do give us.
The movie does okay in the “effects and editing” department, when the effects finally do come, that is; the first third of the movie or so is zombie-free, and the first scenes with the zombies use the “hidden” side-shots and the shadows to make you think the undead are probably more gruesome than they really are. But when they do make their presence known, the gore and kills are actually quite good-looking. The high point of the movie is easily the scene where many zombies meet their demise at the hands of a massive tractor-thresher and its giant spinning blades; the scene is extremely impressive, I must admit, and probably worth the price of admission alone!
“Boy Eats Girl” is not a “must-see” by any stretch of the imagination, but if you are looking for an above-average zombie movie that gives you a pretty unique spin on the undead and how they roll with the “kids these days,” you could do a lot worse than this one.