I know what you’re thinking: not another zombie movie. Well, Not Another Zombie Movie beat you to the punch. Yes, it’s another zombie movie, and more specifically, it’s another zombie comedy (“zom com”). But here’s a twist: it’s an “urban” (read: black) zom com, which helps make it stand out from the ever-growing pack more so than its actual content or quality.
It’s actually not bad — especially for its bare-bones budget — but like its title, it’s pretty derivative, playing upon the zombie movie conventions that countless other zom coms have already bled dry. Still, its title is also indicative of its admirable attempt to not pigeonhole itself into an urban niche. It could’ve easily called itself Zombiez in tha Hood or Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Dead, Y’all!, but instead, it chose a race-neutral title. Additionally, while the cast is largely black, it’s still fairly diverse, and it isn’t set in a stereotypical “hood,” nor does it revolve around jokes about crime/drugs/gangs/baby mommas/[insert other hood stereotypes here].
The story is cookie-cutter zombie stuff: a ragtag group of people bands together to survive a zombie outbreak in their city. Mike (writer Jay Davis) and his neighbor Frank (co-director Black Jack Johnson) are the central figures, the latter being a more responsible, heroic family man and the former being a lascivious louse who would throw his mom to a pack of zombies to save himself. Somehow, Mike isn’t the villain (Surprisingly, he remains marginally likable, in part because it’s refreshing to see someone with the survive-at-any-cost mentality most of us would probably adopt under similar circumstances.); there are more nefarious military and corporate types tied to a pharmaceutical company responsible for the outbreak.
The humor isn’t of the over-the-top spoof variety of Not Another Teen Movie and the Airplane and Naked Gun films. The comedy is more straightforward and situational, and while it’s unoriginal, there are moments when it scores — in part because of the gleefully ignorant script and in part because it benefits from some decent comedic performances from cast members who come off as local standup comedians. Unfortunately, the script struggles for consistent laughs and too often resorts to juvenile comedy — i.e., poop and sex jokes — and cringe-worthy, un-PC gags that try to mine comedy from topics like spousal abuse and mental retardation.
Of course, it also suffers from the standard shortcomings of such micro-budget fare, like uneven performances (I swear one guy is reading his lines off of his cell phone.), poor production value (including sound that makes us feel like we’re listening to a conversation from the other side of the room) and continuity gaffes (One guy has a bite mark on his arm BEFORE the zombie bites him.). But on the whole, Not Another Zombie Movie is an admirable stab at a zom com that, at the very least, doesn’t make us automatically dread the NEXT zombie movie.