With the exception of Jaws and Cujo, I’ve very seldom enjoyed a horror film starring animals, and would add that animal comedies are worse. Despite this, I found myself watching Zombeavers tonight on Netflix.
According their rating system, this horror-comedy had a low chance of my approval. So not surprisingly, much of the movie made me groan and roll my eyes. And yet, there were genuine moments of laughter and enjoyment too. You can figure out pretty quickly that this film doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s simply a fun film made by people trying to make a fun movie.
And for that reason, I actually found myself enjoying Zombeavers more than I expected. But please don’t be surprised if I still happen to give this movie low scores despite this. Because let’s face it, it’s hard to give high marks when the animatronic beaver puppets were laughable, the characters were stereotypically cabin/slasher types, and the plot was extremely formulaic. But then again, what can you honestly expect from a movie called Zombeavers, whose concept trailer was constructed using footage from various other horror movies and BBC nature documentaries?
This movie, directed by Jordan Rubin, certainly delivered on my expectations though. For one, I expected a lot of “beaver” jokes. There were definitely a large number of them present. The one about beaver fever caught me off guard though. I also expected to see a lot of homages to various other horror films, but was very impressed with one in particular. It was the scene in the cabin where the zombeavers were attacking through boarded up windows. It almost comically recreating Night of the Living Dead for me.
As mentioned earlier, I expected a very formulaic plot as well. And sure enough, the plot has a growing number of baddies attacking a slowing shrinking number of college students. In this film, the baddies were accidentally created when a container of toxic chemicals ruptured next to a beaver dam.
In classic cabin horror fashion, we are introduced to the smart girl, the innocent girl, and the slutty girl (played by Rachel Melvin, Lexi Atkins, and Cortney Palm). They are eventually joined by their boyfriends Sam, Tommy, and Buck (played by Hutch Dano, Jake Weary, and Peter Gilroy) who basically are the horny sports guy, the horny funny guy, and the horny douchebag that cheated on his girlfriend. Very quickly the group predictably splits up and ends up having to fight off the zombeavers as well as the infected.
Now I had expected Jenn to be the last survivor, with her being the innocent girl. But the filmmakers threw us a small curveball there by making the slutty girl the Last Girl Standing instead. And then, as if the supply us with a story bookend, they throw in another curve that comically references the beginning of the film.
I felt most of the performances were adequate for this film. I enjoyed Palm’s performance as Zoe the most. And I loved Rex Linn’s performance as Smyth (with a “Y”). I was actually quite surprised by the number of actors I recognized in this film, including Brent Briscoe and Phyllis Katz as Mr. and Mrs. Gregorson. John Meyer also had a role in this film. The great voice-actor Fred Tatasciore, who voiced the Zombeavers, rounds out the names that I recognized in the credits (which you might want to stick it out for, just of the silly pun at the end).
What this movie lacks in well-rounded polish and technical finish, it makes up for in its heart, its guts, and its interesting twist on the zombie tale. It’s not going to be a film that most “serious” critics will praise, but sometimes it’s okay to have a guilty pleasure in your film collection.
I gave this film 2.2 bowties out of 5.