Zombie Bro follows young girl Francene, Franc for short. Her and her family are a typical family living in Australia. Her father, who is tough on her and who Frank fears hates her is a cop. Her mother, who always takes her father’s side in an argument is a nurse. And finally there’s her brother Teddie, who seems to get all of her parent’s affection and she is jealous of.
Oh, and Teddie’s a zombie!
After seeing Teddie attack others it’s up to Franc to tell her delusional parents that Teddie has killed and will kill again, and that they are most likely next on the menu. In the meantime, Franc learns how to defend herself, make friends and even comes to meet and know her hero – her father.
This year I have seen a number of big films. Avengers, Godzilla, Captain Marvel, Hellboy, Pet Semetary and the like. All big and technically impressive and structurally sound and soulless. Just soulless.
Not without entertaining moments or aspects to them, but you can feel the corporate hands and the chill of money in the air. So I feel that when I see a film like Zombie Bro – small, simple and full of passion, letting me know that this was a film someone needed to make – I find it nice. It reminds me why I love film.
Zombie Bro has a very ‘let’s meet up after work and get filming’ feel to it. I mean that as a compliment. I felt the same way with New Zealand black comedies, Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows and, to a greater extent, Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. It impresses you with how much can be done on such a small budget. The Zombie make-up in this isn’t great, looking like Halloween face-paint than anything.
This may also be because Teddie is a child and they didn’t want to use more than that just in case. We are restricted to only a few locations, with the house taking the chunk of the film. The kills scenes are also very lacking, and even a little clumsy at times, especially the attack on the kid in the gym.
What works about the film is the performances and humour. Everybody, even the kids, are able to sell this ridiculous concept. They are given quirky dialogue and silly scenarios – again, the brother is a zombie and nobody is any the wiser to it – but they play it with a straight face and the right amount of seriousness and self-awareness that it has the comedy hit home where it needs to. The moment that got me the most was when homework was given out by the teacher to write a poem on anything they’d like, saying “this could be on cows, or trees, or on the Mexican drug cartels”. The script is littered with examples like that.
But at the centre of it all, Zombie Bro has a good heart. It cares about the story that it’s telling and the bonding of the daughter and father is very sweet. Take out this zombie plot and you are left with a quirky little drama about a daughter who thinks her dad hates her and a dad who can’t find any common ground with his child. It all comes together very effectively.
The passion for the film shows itself with every frame and it’s definitely something I will remember. It’s a nice little reminder that not everything has to be big. I wouldn’t call it the best film that I have seen all year, but it’s easily one of the sweetest and most sincere.
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