Saturday, October 26, 2019

Zomboat!: Sailing through the Zombie Apocalypse

Sometimes a zombie apocalypse is like basic training or freshman dorm assignments. People get thrown together and have to make the best of it. Of course, Jo and Kat know each other, but they are not so good at working with each other in an amicable manner. They do not know bickering best pals Sunny and Amar from Adam, but their fates become intertwined when zombies start terrorizing Birmingham in the horror sitcom, Zomboat!, which is now streaming on Hulu.

Kat is the gamer with an encyclopedic knowledge of zombie movies, so she thinks she is well prepared for zombiegeddon. Jo is the girly, social media obsessed one, who is pretending to be over her ex, even though she is cyber-stalking and smart phone-tracking him. The thing about him is he owns a houseboat. Kat is convinced they can just sail it through the canals to London. Jo is not so convinced, but she doesn’t have a better idea. Neither do Sunny and Amar, who were hiding below deck.

At this point, zombie spoofs are nearly as abundant and cliched as straight-up zombie horror movies, so any newcomers must overcome a great deal of skepticism. Frankly, Zomboat probably sounds a lot like Cockneys vs. Zombies without the EastEnder accents, which it sort of is, but that film was a lot of film, so we could do far worse.

In fact, the first two episodes (those supplied for review purposes) have a good balance of outrageous gore and hip pop-culture humor. Leah Brotherhead and Cara Theobold have decent odd couple sibling chemistry as Kat and Jo, but the novelty for a lot of American viewers will be seeing the latter (best known as the naïve kitchen maid Ivy Stuart on Downton Abbey) in such a different context. Chances are, they will rather enjoy watching Theobold vamp it up and shake off the inevitable splatterings of blood. It is not clear how much value-added Hamza Jeetooa and Ryan McKen will supply as a Sunny and Amar, but there are signs the former will be reliable fount of acerbic sarcasm judging from his strong finish to the second episode.

clearly expects its audience to be obsessive zombie fans, because the characters constantly reference The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, and the Living Dead films. It is pretty geeky, but at least it thoroughly understands the zombie heritage that created a favorable commercial climate for its production in the first place. It is not quite Scream for zombies, but its still pretty amusing. It might not be enough to justify Hulu subscriptions, but existing subscribers should find it a larky stream. Recommended so far, Zomboat! has now launched on Hulu.