Well, this isn’t a complaint you hear from me very often, but what really buries Joe Dante’s newest movie for me is how inherently sexist the whole affair is, showing not a bit of compassion for its zombie returnee (Ashley Greene, whose manic performance once she’s back from dead is to my surprise one of the better elements of the film, and deserving of a better one), and no visible clue that its supposed everyman hero (Anton Yelchin) is a childish, superficial little prick. Of course, the latter isn’t too surprising in a film that seems to believe actual human pair relationships should be between people who are virtually identical, and that can’t seem to ever rise above the lamest of comedy clichés in its characterisation, with Yelchin’s Max the poor beleaguered sod under attack by the oh-so-evil (just look at her ecological fixation, oh noes!), neurotic, dominant shrew back from the dead, even though all he really deserves is Alexandra Daddario’s female other self (just without any actual ego, because clearly, that’s baaad in a woman).
One might hope that at least hilarity ensues, but the film’s jokes are stale, Dante’s usual visual gags and nods in the direction of the tradition of genre cinema are the same old for him, and there’s really not a reason to root for anyone here. Compare this to something like Shaun of the Dead, a film that goes out of its way to show its male main character as a loveable fuck-up but always stays conscious that he is indeed a fuck-up, and what Dante’s film mostly looks like is dated, as if he didn’t learn a thing since his 80s heyday. Well, actually, it’s more like he unlearned quite a few things he knew. It doesn’t help this impression that the film is so clearly struggling with its depiction of contemporary twenty-somethings, using phrases, jokes and characterisation for them that suggest they’re actually living in an old man’s idea of 2004.
Add all this up, and you get yourself a film that actually leaves one somewhat embarrassed for its director. Surely, this can’t be the film Dante was actually aiming to make?