September 14, 2009

EAT ME! (Review)


EAT ME! (2009)

Director: Katie Carman

3.5 / 5 zedheads

 WARNING: This film contains flesh eating, pot smoking, bicycle thievery, radioactive brain bashing, gratuitous cursing, a new romance, blood drooling, zombie bagging, band practice, warm beer, a few tears, an orange car, the star spangled banner and a heartbreaking testament to the human spirit. Also, some jokes.

Although EAT ME! was not as funny as I had hoped, it is an incredibly charming and enjoyable zombie picture that has a quirky take on the genre and features a number of genuinely amusing scenes. It's an independent movie that dreams big and, for the most part, succeeds with what it has.

EAT ME! (formerly titled The Eaters) is a new horror comedy from Brooklyn director Katie Carman that is making the festival rounds and finalizing distribution deals. Back in July, Carman did an interview with The Zed Word. Since then I've had a screener for EAT ME! here on my desk at Zed Word HQ. Unfortunately, the Festival of Fear came around and took up a lot of my time. Now, thankfully, I can turn my full zombie appetite to EAT ME! and dig right in.

First, Carman and screenwriter/star Elizabeth Lee get immediate points for bringing back the radioactive zombie. I watch enough zombie movies in a month to get simply sick of viruses and plagues and genetic engineering offered up as explanations for zombies. EAT ME! features the glorious return of the crispy, irradiated zombie. In this film, the zombies descend on Brooklyn during a blackout. This blackout traps the members of indie rock band General Malacarne (played by Jun Naito, Ivy Hong, Elizabeth Lee, and Chesley Calloway) in the basement where they practice. They pass the night drinking and getting high in the dark before the morning forces them to escape the basement and face a world of blood-hungry zombies.

The standout performance of the film is without a doubt Chesley Calloway as Sam. Calloway's delivery feels effortlessly funny, and every line he delivers is just pitch-perfect. Calloway seems to exhale humour. For example, there is a scene that involves a debate over whether zombie dentures can infect someone who is bitten by them, and Calloway manages to convey convincing fear yet still keep his comedic tone.

While the rest of the cast are decent and likable actors, something is missing in their comedic delivery. Scenes that should be funny just didn't tickle my funny bone. I don't know if it had to do with the situations, the actors' energy, or the wording of the lines, but I found few laugh-out-loud moments in EAT ME! Although the humour may be a little touch-and-go, EAT ME! is thankfully not a movie that is trying too hard to be funny. Therefore, even when the humour doesn't work, the characters still remain charming. In that sense, I suppose EAT ME! is a little more like real life  -- not every humorous phrase or comeback is or should be met with raucous laughter.

I really grew to like the characters as they make inept plans to escape Brooklyn. Elizabeth Lee in particular as Kara is very watchable. She's cute and honest and although her delivery of the humourous dialogue did not provoke many laughs from me, her character is still someone I was drawn to. I should also mention Adam Morris's supporting role as "Metal Dave," one of the band member's roommates. "Metal Dave" gets so many funny lines and has such an on-screen charisma that he should have been cast as one of the principle characters.

What EAT ME! may lack in some areas it makes up for in a solid use of its independent budget and an imagination and willingness to try new things in the zombie comedy genre. Zombie extras may be scarce, but the zombies are unique as they are hungry not for flesh or brains, per say, but blood. Also, the zombies have different personalities. Some are just stupid and dazed whereas others are aggressive and violent. This adds some interesting variety to the film and allows the characters time to plan their escape and actually use the zombies to their benefit. After watching EAT ME!, you're going to be thinking of zombies the next time your car runs out of gas. Trust me!

Carman and her film-making team also need to be commended given how good this film looks for an independent production. The picture is crisp, the sound is clear, the editing is tight, and the film manages to take place in a lot of outdoor locations yet the narrative stays coherent during transportation scenes. For the last part of the film, the characters are constantly on the move. These factors normally spell doom for independent productions. Director Katie Carman, however, deftly dances around these potential pitfalls and makes them work for her.

For its inventiveness, Calloway's great performance, and the commendable production values, EAT ME! is a zombie comedy movie that I hope finds an audience. It may not satisfy your hunger for a big, gory zombie spectacle, but it has a lot going for it to satisfy your other zombie cravings. With EAT ME! as her first feature, Katie Carman has proven that she could be a very capable director of bigger-budget feature films. I look forward to her work in the future.

For more information about EAT ME!, visit the offifical website: