Night of the Living Deb
Way back when, George Romero not only reinvigorated a little known monster and changed the world with a super low budget classic, but also handed Hollywood a punny treasure trove still being harvested nearly fifty years later. Some filmmakers have done wonders with their title-first-movie-second approach, but most spend all their creative talent up front and have nothing left for the actual movie.
I read that the titular Deb is supposed to be “endearingly awkward”, but I got too much of a Dumb and Dumberer vibe to feel that endearing part. She’s definitely awkward, making the world safe from fragile objects wherever she goes. But her awkwardness goes way past a crescendo of shattered ceramics into cringe worthy social faux pas, clingy interpersonal ineptitude, and crude personal habits. She cozies up to perfect Ryan at a July 4th bar bash by stealing his girlfriend’s drink and then hangs out sucking cozily on the straw while his girlfriend walks out on him. The next morning neither Ryan nor Deb can remember what happened next, but Deb assumes it was wonderful and considers herself the new girlfriend while perfect Ryan – who doesn’t smoke, bikes to work, and has the perfect vegan food in his fridge – finally gets her out of his apartment and his life. He wishes.
This is supposed to be a play on the ancient trope of opposites attract, but ends up being more of an hour and a half watching two characters who are each completely obnoxious in opposite ways. They tool around the city, trying to find a safe spot from the – oh, wait, I haven’t mentioned zombies yet, have I? This is the most zombie lite film I’ve seen in a very long time. They’re there but not terribly menacing to our heroes. They do provide an opportunity for some truly tasteless jokes, a couple of funny zombie kills (including Death By The Clapper), and a basic raison d’etre that barely drives the thin plot forward. Ryan and Deb are so completely not right for each other that the obligatory scene where he suddenly sees her in a new light and is smitten fell completely on its face. I’ve rarely seen a worse example of “because it’s in the script!”.
The movie isn’t a total loss. As I said, there’s some fun play with the zombies. Ray Wise, who plays perfect Ryan’s dad is always a riot. A running gag about old technology was pretty clever because it makes sense in the real world. One quick visual gag that made me laugh out loud wouldn’t have worked if it hadn’t been set in Portland, which is a city pretty enough and quirky enough to stand up to this movie. It’s by far not the worst zombie film I’ve ever seen, but it’s not as funny as it thinks it is or as funny as it should be. If you’re a fan of romzomcoms you will undoubtedly like this better than I did, so don’t let my curmudgeonly opinion get you down.
Night of the Living Deb – Official Trailer #1 (2016)