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B-Movie of the Week: Boy Eats Girl

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Did you happen to read the tagline of this charming review on your way through the door? In case you were wondering, that's my brand-spanking new philosophy on life. If someone's going to tell me I have cancer, the black plague, or some other potentially fatal disease, I want the news delivered with an accent. Doesn't matter what kind, mind you, as long as it's not American. For some bizarre reason, everything just sounds better that way. Call me crazy; call me anti-American; hell, call me pro-accent. Regardless of what you say about me, it's not going to change the fact that anything delivered with a "foreign accent" is much more fascinating to behold. This, of course, may help to explain why I loved Stephen Bradley's Irish-lensed zombie comedy Boy Eats Girl a lot more than I probably should have.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for them Ireland types.

Here's the setup: Nathan (David Leon) loves Jessica (Samantha Mumba), and Jessica, it seems, loves Nathan. But, as it usually goes with silly high school romances between best friends, they just can't seem to tell one another how they truly feel. After Jessica misses a potentially touchy-feely encounter with her beau-to-be, Nathan is convinced she's just blowing him off. It doesn't help matters any when he sees Jessica catching a ride with the town's resident playboy, a sleazy fellow who is just aching to see what's lurking beneath her skirt.

Feeling down in the dumps and bluer than the Cookie Monster with a batch of sugar-free biscuits, Nathan fashions a noose from his bedroom ceiling and foolishly tests the limits of his suicidal tendencies. Moments later, his mother enters the room, knocks poor Nathan off-balance, and sends him into the Great Beyond.

Fortunately for everyone, Nathan's mom discovered an ancient spellbook in a secret chamber of the local church earlier that day, thus allowing this mourning parent to bring her dead son back to life. However, his resurrection doesn't come without a few grisly side-effects. To put a finer point on it, Nathan is now a flesh-munching, card-carrying member of the living dead. Despite his best efforts to control this unnatural hunger, our zombified hero eventually bites a few of his dimwitted classmates, setting off a horrific series of events in the process. Mild pubescent hilarity slowly ensues.

It's quite obvious that director Stephen Bradley and screenwriter Derek Landy have seen Shaun of the Dead one too many times; their like-minded script is peppered generously with the same kind of gruesome lovestruck humor found in Edgar Wright's certified zombie classic. Though the teenage hijinks unfold like an Irish version of a generic CW high school drama, there's enough bloody gore and unbridled zombie mayhem to keep genre fans adhered to their great-grandmothers' plastic-covered loveseats.

That said, the red stuff really doesn't start to flow until the final act, culminating in an over-the-top finale that appears to have been heavily influenced by a very popular, very gory New Zealand zombie film from the early '90s. For fear of ruining the surprise for everyone who desires to partake in this lightweight outing, I'll keep the details of this juicy moment a secret, since I'd hate to detract from the film's one true gross-out moment. Let's just say that Mumba is capable of much more than belting out watered-down pop songs over synthetic drum loops. Who knew?

Despite a bevy of cornball dialogue and the employment of over two thousand tired high school cliches, most of the characters found roaming the halls of this lukewarm comedy are actually quite likable. Again, I'm not entirely sure if my fondness for these paper-thin teens is due to the genuine, honest to God talent of the cast or if I'm just a big ol' pasty sucker for an Irish accent. This theory continues to boggle my squishy little brain 24-7, and I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit such a thing in print for all to see. Besides, I'd like to think that I can tell the difference between a solid performance and a charming accent.

Don't tell anyone, okay?

My only major concern with Boy Eats Girl is that it may be a little too pedestrian to succeed as a full-fledged zombie picture. While we do get lots of flesh-ripping carnage and several gooey death sequences, they always feel a little too safe for their own good, as if the filmmakers were intentionally restraining themselves from soaking their flick in sticky gore. By the time we finally get to our daily allowance of undead violence, the film has almost run its course. What a shame. That's not to say Stephen Bradley's horrific love story is a complete and utter failure, mind you. Heavens, no. In fact, it works rather well as a mindless teen comedy.

Just not as a full-on horror film.

At the end of the day, Boy Eats Girl is an interesting way to spend 80-odd minutes of your astonishingly simple life. It's a brisk, fast-paced tale of a boy, his mates, and the girl he loves. With zombies, of course. However, if you're looking for the same masterfully crafted experience other horror-laced romantic comedies have to offer, you're going to be sorely disappointed with this one. Boy Eats Girl is as shallow as the high school setting it attempts to satire, and while that may rub some people the wrong way, I found it to be rather charming — in an oddball kind of way, of course. Then again, maybe it's the accents.

One can never be too sure about such things.

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  • http://www.400andpaid.ws Marvin

    Small question. I went to look at this movie on amazon and I couldn’t find Samantha Mumba’s name anywhere. It said the movie came out in 1993. So this was way before Samantha hit the pop music scene.So how come you have her mentioned in his review? Did I miss something?

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