Zombie London Localism - "Cockneys vs Zombies" Review

Updated on May 28, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

The title says it all.

Few films are as frank in their presentation as Cockneys vs Zombies.

And it is like that. “Cockney” seems to refer to the Londoner who wields a thick local accent. Most of the characters revel in their expressions and localisms, and for the non-London viewer, 40% of the jokes might not be funny at all.

But Cockneys vs Zombies seemed to not care about that in the least. They are here to do a checklist of words, objects and London occurrences and make them interact with a zombie apocalypse. Period.

Inspired perhaps by Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, where a small gang in South London battled aliens with their homemade weapons, Cockneys vs. Zombies tell the story of brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy McGuire (Harry Treadaway), two humble Londoners who work distributing meals-on-wheels. Their parents died when they were children in a shootout against the police.

One of the places where they distribute food is the retirement home of their grandfather, Ray (played by the great Alan Ford). Against all odds (or maybe it’s an internal joke that I didn’t catch), the retirement home is a very positive and comfortable place for Ray and the other elder inhabitants (including Pussy Galore herself, Honor Blackman!), but unfortunately the place is about to be demolished, due to a big debt with a bank.

Ray is a tough old man, a former soldier of World War II, where he murdered many Nazis with almost sadistic pleasure. His “fatherly” approach is to repeatedly demonstrate his disappointment with the improvised, cheap life of his grandchildren.

All this crooked family background, always flirting with the criminal lifestyle, is combined with the genuine caring intentions of the McGuire brothers to save the retirement home, so they decide to rob a local bank with the help of their locksmith cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan ), the clumsy Davey (Jack Doolan) and the psychopathic weapons dealer “Mental” Mickey (Bashy).

In parallel, in a construction site in the East End of London, two builders discover and open a 17th-century catacomb, sealed by order of Charles II. And why was this catacomb sealed? Because of zombies. The two builders end up getting bitten by the ancestral ghouls, thus initiating the outbreak throughout the city.

The clumsy gang manages to execute the robbery, but not before facing the police, taking two hostages and being practically saved by the zombie outbreak, which has made the police prioritize emergencies.

From then on, the gang's mission is to return to the retirement home and save their grandfather from the zombie outbreak.

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The humor of Cockneys vs Zombies is quite unstable. In some situations it is deeply naive and old-spirited, British-style humor. In others, the dark humor of the genre manages to break the politically correct barrier. Not all the jokes hit the mark and at times it seemed that the writers had a checklist of British things to refer to in order to enhance the title. Maybe for a Londoner, the jokes work perfectly. But for the rest of the world, the gimmick feels forced sometimes.

However, when the jokes hit, they hit well. There is a memorable scene between two hordes of fanatic zombies from football teams West Ham United and Millwall who, with Kaiser Chief’s “I Predict a Riot” as a background, is a perfect sarcastic comment on the stupidity of radical football fans.

And of course, like any British comedy that respects itself, much of the responsibility for the comic relief comes from old people. Combining a group of survivors of a retirement home with a zombie apocalypse gives rise to much “killer” creativity.

And then there’s the great Alan Ford. Every time he’s on screen, it’s clear that this movie should have completely focused on his character. And although that wasn’t the case, his moments are great enough to make this movie a pleasant time.

Cockneys vs Zombies is a fun, loose enough addition to the genre. The task of mixing British elements with zombies was undoubtedly achieved. But for an infinitely superior British zombie film, please refer to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. And if you want to be even more specific and what you want to see a British comedy about zombies, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a far better option.

But rest assured, if you want cockneys and old British people with shotguns killing zombies, this is definitely your movie.

Movie Details

Title: Cockneys vs Zombies

Release Year: 2012

Director(s): Matthias Hoene

Actors: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Alan Ford, a.o.

3 stars for Cockneys vs Zombies

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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