(A.k.a. DEAD EXCHANGE)
The titular zombie apocalypse is already upon the world when this film opens, and is never explained. It doesn't need to be: we focus on a singular group of friends and how they aim to cope with it.
Wisecracking Darryl (Alex Williamson) makes his way through the undead on the otherwise barren Australian streets to meet mate Joel (Jim Jefferies) at the telephone exchange where they once worked. After dispensing of the zombified wife of their boss Roy (Greg Fleet), they lock themselves in and set about doing the things you'd do if Armageddon was awaiting you outside: making small talk, drinking beer and playing cricket with their empty cans.
Roy turns up with his sexy daughter Emma (Adele Vuko). Darryl clearly fancies her, but her dad is such a hard arse that he daren't overtly show it. Nor dare he tell him that he's had to blow his undead wife's head off a short while earlier.
This motley quartet settle into an evening of, er, drinking, bickering and aimlessly pondering over their next move (where do they go?). Oh, and there's a fair amount of dispute to be had over who will make Roy's esteemed cricket team next season - if a next season ever transpires. Meanwhile the zombies continue to gather outside, keen to get in and eat them.
Enter Lachlan (Andy Trieu) and Ryan (Matthew Popp), two gawky pals who've also made their way through the swarming zombies outside and into the telephone exchange. After passing Roy's test - he's heard that the first sign of becoming zombified is suffering from swollen, purple testicles - they're allowed into the refuge. This immediately upset Darryl somewhat, as he's been making serious inroads with Emma ... but there's clearly a pre-existing connection between her and Lachlan.
As the night drags on, more drinking and bickering occurs. Along with a thwarted rescue attempt made by a couple of passing soldiers, and a hilarious surprise death midway through proceedings...
ME AND MY MATES VS THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE is good fun in a similar vein to SHAUN OF THE DEAD. It obviously has a very Australian take on the humour, so you can expect lots of boisterous swearing, knob gags, casual racism (repeated insistence that Asian Lachlan dole out some "ninja shit", for example) and just about every form of irreverent humour you can think of. None of which is offensive, thanks to writer-director Declan Shrubb's amiable (and very witty) script and the likeable cast.
Comic timing is spot on, as you'd expect from stand-up comics such as Jefferies, while Fleet steals the show as the ostensibly hard-nosed but ultimately well-intended father figure.
The zombie attacks are righteously gory, relying heavily on practical effects work. There's a nice nod to Captain Rhodes' death from DAY OF THE DEAD but by-and-large the in-jokes are restrained enough so as not to isolate newbies from the fun.
The pacing is brisk and the one-liners hit their mark more often than they miss. Production values are decent. If there is one flaw, it's that the film tries to be funny all the time. Comedy always has more impact when married to a little serious drama. There isn't any here - even the film's "darkest" moments are delivered for laughs. While they are funny, I feel the success of the film would've been greater with some balance between the giggles and a bit of pathos.
Still, it's a minor quibble on my part. Keep watching during the end titles sequence too for more closure on the surviving protagonists...
APOCALYPSE is presented uncut in its original 16x9 ratio. It looks grand, with deep blacks and fine detail throughout. There's no room for complaint when it comes to colour conveyance. This is a solid, noise-free transfer.
2.0 and 5.1 options are provided in terms of the English audio. Both are good: I preferred the more natural-sounding 2.0 track.
The disc opens to a static main menu page. A static scene selection screen affords access to the film via 16 chapters.
Bonus features are restricted to the film's original 2-minute trailer, which is predictably mirth-filled and frantic. "Not in fucking 3D!" it proudly boasts.
ME AND MY MATES is an affably daft zom-com that could've been great if it had thrown in some drama to balance out the jokes. As it stands, it's gory fun and looks good on Matchbox Films' DVD.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Matchbox Films|
|see main review|