Whether you drop into the film in the beginning or the middle, you will have an enjoyable time, rollicking laughs and jump-ups, surprises and shocks. Zombeavers, directed by Jordan Rubin and written by Jordan Rubin, Al and Jon Kaplan is a clever parody of 80s style freaky creature features that are funny and frightening. The film spans a continuum from hysterical comedy to ewww gore and horror and bounces back and forth so smoothly that when you are done belly-laughing, you will jump out of your skin with the excellently paced frights which startle when you least expect them to. Zombeavers filmmakers know this genre is lame and ludicrous and they capitalize on it to great effect. The film script intentionally milks all the beaver jokes and sex tropes and then does an about face to serious scary that is tremendously entertaining. Grown men in their 40s and 50s sitting near me were raucously laughing and having a blast as was everyone else, including this reviewer. The film is so camp, so old style, it is just too good to pass up.
The beauty of Zombeavers is that you will not be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by special effects and savvy CGI. The effects, actually, are pretty awful, in keeping with the genre parody of by-gone film days. This is a pleasure. The horrible monster beavers that are zombies that come back again and again and again for blood, more blood and quarts of it are puppets. Though the filmmakers used a number of beavers for different set ups, the leader beaver was completely animatronic. It took four people to operate it and 30 minutes to set up before each of the shots which made using it tricky.
The terrifying, large mouthed, scruffy, buck-toothed creatures don’t show up until you are lulled into thinking the title is a ruse and maybe you’re watching the wrong film. This is the well thought out script and its homage to the 80s “B” horror genre. But the set up must go on for a bit establishing the sex hungry guys, the “pathetic” 80s-style objectification of women and the superficial guy-girl relationships as the college-age couples gather in this cabin in the deep woods by a lake, far from civilization to have a sexy, torrid and debauched, wild spree. Only, the beavers won’t let them. The first zombeaver sighting is truly outrageous and hysterical and what happens to these “innocents” as they battle the beavers for survival is about as funny-gory as you can get. Would you have it any other way?
Prior to its opening, the Zombeavers trailer was presented on Youtube and there was a viral free-for-all. The trailer generated so much interest, the marketing and promotion appeared to be an easy no brainer. There were a few million views in the first weeks and more by now. The interest is due to many reasons, but primarily because the film works on a number of levels. Above all it is is recognizable as the filmmakers’ tribute to old style filmmaking which we appreciate because it has an aura of wacky reality not the hazy gloss of phenomenal CGI. This makes it a refreshing, “old” innovation. The comedy is well scored with the horror. Finally, the ensemble is entirely believable; their acting is fine tuned by the director; there is no over-doing it. The cast are committed to making these creatures real and those who have been gnawed and gush blood or worse are panicked and horrified as are we.
We know this is all in comic horror, but nevertheless, in the back of our minds there is the dark fear associated with animals that bite, carry disease and eternally terrorize as they kill. In its dark intent Zombeavers strikes a chord that connects with our unconscious. The twisted metaphors, men will surely appreciate,as will women. Underneath all the mayhem and madness, the wry concept works.