April 28, 2009

Necroville (Review)



Directors: Billy Garberina and Richard Griffin
Writers: Adam Brown and Billy Garberina


2.5 / 5 zedheads

Necroville isn't sure what kind of movie it wants to be. A foul-mouthed Clerks-inspired buddy comedy? A supernatural comedy in the vein of Ghostbusters? An Evildead splatter fest? A sleazy gross out Toxic Avenger-like flick? In the end, it tries to be all these things and spreads itself too thin.

Produced over the course of three years on a budget of approximately $9800, Necroville is set in the city of (you guessed it) Necroville. The citizens of Necroville have something of an infestation problem: namely, zombies, vampires, werewolves, and worst of all Goth kids. It's a city where people die everyday, the homeless beg for bullets rather than change, and life goes on for our two slacker protagonists: Jack (Billy Garberina) and Alex (Adam Brown). Jack and Alex work at a video store; rather, they work at a video store until Jack and Alex accidently trash the place while trying to dispatch a zombie that had wandered into the store. As a result, they are fired. While Alex is not too concerned, Jack has to support his lazy and manipulative girlfriend Penny (Brandy Bluejacket). Jack's unemployment is unacceptable to her. As a result, Alex and Jack end up taking jobs as monster hunters for ZOM-B-GONE, a low-rent creature extermination service.

I like the premise of the movie. Garberina, Griffin, and Brown set up a lot of comedic potential in a town where all kinds of aliens and monsters are on the loose but people have become used to them and death is treated nonchalantly. For example, residents of Necroville learn about weapons and martial arts as practical skills for everyday use just as how people learn to sew a button or fix a flat tire. As a comedy, the monsters aren't particularly scary. Instead, they are goofy: the zombies are goofy grey-faced idiots, vampires are sexually experimental fops, and the werewolves all look like they have black noses and hairy beards.

A vampire AND a DJ? How much more unholy can you get?

The problem with the movie, however, is the acting and the plot. Alex and Jack have little chemistry and, as played by Garberina and Brown, their banter seems forced and rigid. At times, it feels as if the filmmakers are trying to ape Kevin Smith's style of dialogue but miss the fact that throwing "fuck" into a sentence does not make it funny. The dialogue and gags feel derivative although of nothing specific. Several running gags, such as one about Holy Water, feel dull and repetitive although they do pay off in the end. Also, there is a moment in which Jack and Alex kill a room full of people - not monsters - and, despite a flashback that gives a good reason why those people should die, I lost touch with the characters for what essentially feels like cold-blooded murder out of place in the slapstick carnage of the film's universe.

The plot structure also doesn't help. The first half of the movie does a good job of establishing Jack and Penny's relationship, but then it bounces around between sketch comedy situations showing Jack and Alex on the job. It isn't until half-way through the movie that the main plot of a vampire trying to steal Penny from Jack is introduced. The vampire is someone Jack knew in the past and whom appeared in a flashback, but so little connection is made between the flashback and the film's plot that I missed the relevance of the vampire's identity at first. At times, the movie's pacing and situations feel tedious.

This scene kinda makes more sense in the movie. Kinda

Necroville does have its achievements. There are moments when all the elements begin to converge. For example, in a scene where Alex and Jack are called to a BDSM club to exterminate some zombies, the camera work, humour, action, and special effects come together nicely in a harmonious example of the fine movie Necroville could be. Also, for an independent, no-budget film, there are some very cool, inventive, and well executed special effects and gross-out bits that are highly memorable. If the movie were better, I would dare call them classic moments. I don't want to spoil them, but my favorites include zombies meeting a chainsaw, a baby and a straw, and -- as Billy Garberina puts it -- a method of dispatching a vampire that he guarantees you've never seen before.

Necroville also landed a fun musical soundtrack featuring tracks from Zombina and the Skeletons that lends a sense of energy to the film that is lacking in the plot and comedy.

In the end, Necroville would have worked better as a short film, but it has enough technical achievements and heart to recommend to independent filmmakers or fans to check out even if Necroville doesn't work well as a feature film.

Necroville is available on DVD from Shock-O-Rama, and the DVD does come with a generous helping of special features. Honestly, I didn't care enough for the movie to feel compelled to check out the features.

Necroville Trailer


I want to thank Brother D of the Mail Order Zombie podcast for sending me this copy of Necroville. Brother D and Miss Bren produce a consistently smart and funny podcast every week, and they love to give away prizes to their fans. Definitely check them out and subscribe to their podcast through iTunes! Help them reach their goal of 50 iTunes reviews on the US store.