AKA Aaah! Zombies!!
Wasting Away is a decent, enjoyable zombie comedy in a subgenre that has become quite crowded lately and it brings something different to the table. It’s not a great film though.
The story itself concerns Mike (Matthew Davis), Vanessa (Julianna Robinson), Tim (Michael Grant Terry) and Cindy (Betsy Beutler) all being afflicted with a very serious case of brainfreeze after Mike creates some ale ice cream with, unbeknownst to him, ingredients contaminated by some nasty stuff that zombiefies everyone it comes into contact with. When the group head out to the streets they see “infected” people moving at great speed, speaking incoherently and being prone to extreme violence. But it’s not those people who are infected. It’s our lead characters who are now the dangerous ones.
Director Matthew Kohnen (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Sean Kohnen) does a good job here of making the main characters likeable and bemused by the whole situation, until the penny eventually drops. The movie is filmed in both colour and black & white (with the latter showing the true depiction of events and the former showing the world as the lead characters see it) and juxtaposes differing views in amusing ways. Top marks go to the scene showing Mike and Tim’s celebratory dance moves in a bowling alley and the moment with Tim and Cindy passionately kissing each other – both moments had me laughing out loud. And yet the premise is SO good that you can’t help feeling this should have been even better, it should have had more big laughs rather than numerous little chuckles.
The cast all do well, most of our quartet having gained a lot of experience through some quality TV work (Davis in The Vampire Diaries, Terry in Bones, Beutler in Scrubs) and it’s a testament to their likeability that you still want things to end well for them even when they realise just how the situation really is and who the monsters really are. Colby French is also very good as a man who believes that he’s a super-soldier, Richard Riehle is as enjoyable to watch onscreen as he usually is and Oren Skoog (who was also in Transylmania, a movie derided by pretty much everyone except . . . . . . . . . me) is good for a few laughs.
Clearly working within a low budget, and doing quite well with it, the movie deserves to be seen and enjoyed but I can’t help feeling that there should have been so many more one-liners packed in here and lots more comedy. The script isn’t as tight as it could be and there are a number of visual gags that rely on FX work that the production couldn’t really afford. They’re amusing enough but rely on the viewer forgiving the cheap look of the thing, something that didn’t really have to come to the fore if the comedy had been tweaked in a number of areas elsewhere.
It’s something a bit different but Wasting Away is not up there with the better zombie comedies that we’ve seen in recent years (ie, Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland and Fido).