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No Toaster Strudel in the Face for this Horror "Comedy"
Horror comedies are usually much better on paper than on film, which Dead & Breakfast wholeheartedly proves. The first half is a mish-mash of self-consciously 'witty' dialogue and 'hilarious' situations as a group of yappy twenty-somethings throttle in a Winnebago towards Texas for a wedding. But an overnight detour leads them into a den of hillbilly zombies and handmade shotguns, and some semblance of fun, whether it's comedic or not.
With its unnecessary close-ups, terrible acting, and abhorrent hand-held camera use, Dead and Breakfast has all the charm of a first feature by a fanboy with too many ideas and too little experience. (Note that this is actually writer/director Matthew Leutwyler's third feature.) This isn't to say that the movie's bad there's plenty of gore and creative death scenes to tickle your attention span for 88 minutes. But as a horror film it never finds its voice, and as a comedy, it tries far too hard to ever provoke a good chuckle out of me.
Early on, the lead is taken by Christian, a pill-popping but level-headed mediator played by the always wonderful Jeremy Sisto. But his premature nixing leaves the scattered cast without a den mother. Sara (Ever Carradine, who amazingly looks nothing like a Skolnick) should be leading the pack, but she spends the rest of the film bellowing, 'you've got to be kidding me!' as she wards off zombie attacks. Hardly a leading heroine. The rest of the cast much better than the headshot-cast prats I see in studio horror pics these days - simply squabble amongst themselves about personal issues while under attack. Then there's the 'comedy': look, drunk guys aren't funny, rude French people aren't funny, and while slipping around in a puddle of gore is funny (see Shaun of the Dead's off-screen tumble by Simon Pegg), when the scene lasts upwards of 30 seconds, one feels pandered to. Even hillbilly zombies aren't funny isn't that a little too on the nose?
You could do worse than Dead & Breakfast, but if you're looking for a genuine laugh with a good smattering of gore, check out another of Lions Gate's indie horror acquisition, Monster Man. And if you want a good zombie gorefest, stick with Dead Alive or Evil Dead II, which Dead & Breakfast aspires so painfully to be. Because there's nothing funny about desperation, is there?
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