To the seasoned horror buff, he will be known for directing the original Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981) in his earlier years. But for many of us, myself included, our love for Joe Dante movies came to life when we first watched those tiny furry fingers curl around the edge of that wooden box, a warm fire burning in the background. Then those nervous, droopy ears appeared and, finally…Gizmo.
Fast-forward 30 years, past the downright hilarity of The ‘burbs (1989) and the skin-creepy-crawly-ness of The Hole (2009), and that brings us to Dante’s latest offering: Burying The Ex. This particular film tells the tale of an unlucky fellow by the name of Max whose controlling ex-girlfriend comes back from the dead. After receiving the honour of viewing this new comedy horror myself, I looked back fondly on all the movies that came before it and I had just one question… What the fuck happened?
Ex’s most pressing problem begins and ends with poor casting choices. More specifically with the two female leads. First you have the crazy zombie girlfriend, played by Ashley Greene, best known for her portrayal of Alice Cullen from the loathsome Twilight series – which attracted Razzie nominations like flies to one huge pile of shit. And secondly, the other woman, Alexandra Daddario, whose last notable claim to horror fame was her final girl role in Texas Chainsaw 3D, which drew hatred from critics and fans alike. An appearance in sequels was a possibility. The studio quickly opted for a prequel instead. Ouch…
The gals, lovely as they both are – pure eye candy. Act their way out of a paper bag? They couldn’t act their way out of a moist tissue. Moist because one of their drooling male fans has just splooged in it.
On the flipside Anton Yelchin, who plays the undead’s down-trodden boyfriend, Max, is sweet and reliable as ever with his trademark shivers and quivers. He seems to have settled into his typecast as charming underdog quite nicely. And why not? If it ain’t broke! Unfortunately this was another wrong turn for the star of the criminally ignored Dean Koontz adaptation Odd Thomas (2013).
All acting abilities aside, this movie is littered with done-to-death chills and thrills, most of which rely on the deteriorating condition of the deceased ex-girlfriend’s corpse. With a few sickly snaps and cracks here and there, none of them trigger a funny bone. Even the gross-out scene of spontaneous projectile formaldehyde, which really looks like Mountain Dew more than anything else, lands flat. Rom-zom-com flicks such as Shaun of the Dead (2004) may have set the bar, but Ex as it is couldn’t even compete with the zombie comedy of Disney’s Hocus Pocus (1993).
I will admit, going into this movie my expectations were set way too high. Was that a mistake? Evidently. Were my expectations justified? Erm… Fuck, yes! It’s a Joe Dante movie for Pete’s sake. Sadly, even without all the snap, crackle and pop of anticipation, it just does not excuse all the things that this movie lacks. There’s no talent, no imagination, very little of anything. I am optimistic though that one day I will find Burying The Ex to be something more than just plain mediocre.
Dir: Joe Dante
Scr: Alan Trezza
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario
Prd: Mary Cybriwsky, Carl Effenson, David Johnson, Frankie Lindquist, Kyle Tekiela, Alan Trezza
DOP: Jonathan Hall
Music: Joseph LoDuca
Run time: 89 mins
Burying the Ex is available to download and view-on-demand in the UK and USA from June 19th 2015.