With a title like Ibiza Undead surely we can expect a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred deconstruction of the zombie sub-genre, tossed with some acidic, well-considered meta humour? Hardly. With his two-word pitch (the movie was reportedly sold using only its title) writer-director Andy Edwards has ensured patrons of his debut feature are left in no doubt about what kind of film it is. And for that, at the very least, he should be applauded.
The flimsy premise takes place in, you’ve guessed it, Ibiza where the zombie apocalypse that has been raging elsewhere hasn’t yet made an impact. Which is good news for Alex (Jordan Coulson), Az (Homer Todiwala) and Big Jim (Ed Kear) who are off to the party island to help Alex get over his ex, Ellie (Cara Theobold) even though she’s also tagging along. In a neat twist, they check an App at the airport to make sure there are no zombies in Ibiza, and are also run through a scanner before boarding the plane–much like passengers were during the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Naturally, there are zombies there, because otherwise the film would be called Ibiza Alive. You see, as it turns out, a dastardly local club-owner unimaginatively named Karl (Peep Show‘s Matt King, AKA Super Hans) has a whole horde of the undead on hand to use as entertainment (including sexy zombie strippers!) in his place of business. And, although he seems to be keeping them under control, we know it won’t be long before the virus breaks free.
Ibiza Undead does exactly what it says on the tin. Edwards envisioned it as a cross between The Inbetweeners and Dawn (or, rather, Shaun) Of The Dead. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of those endeavours, but there are some interesting ideas at play here, not least the technological aspect of how we, as humans, would deal with a zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, these elements are only really hinted at, in the rush to get to the next bikini or head shot.
Inbetweeners star Emily Atack does the best she can with a thankless role as Alex’s hot sister, while Lithuanian actress Algina Lipskis affects her best posh Brit accent to play her lively best friend Zara (arguably the most sympathetic character). The main kids are obviously being positioned as Inbetweeners knock-offs, but Alex is a complete drip, Az a non-entity and Big Jim showcases how little Edwards understands about what made the iconic show so great in the first place.
Jay may have been a rude, potty-mouthed little shit, but we knew he had a heart of gold underneath it all. James Buckley injected the character with some real, genuine pathos so he felt like a loveable buddy (as did the rest of the lads). Ed Kear’s Big Jim, on the other hand, is a pathological liar, misogynist and, most egregiously, a bad friend. One sequence sees him lie to the girl he hasn’t slept with about sleeping with her, which is bizarrely bad writing, indicative of how much thought went into his character.
Ibiza Undead pummels us with sun-soaked images of hot bods partying their hearts out, but the flick has a really grimy, low-budget feel, right down to the villa the main group are staying at. Ibiza isn’t necessarily a luxury destination, but even Karl’s suits look a bit naff. As sad as it is to see Matt King lower himself to this kind of dross, at least he’s having a good time. His full-on evil genius has an actual lair, decorated with feathers, and King delivers his lines with the kind of dead-eyed enthusiasm reserved for DTV fare.
Alex Zane has a cameo, in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, that will no doubt confuse audiences on the other side of the pond, but he at least gets to poke fun at himself and his public persona. Likewise, he and Atack are zombified, and both of them take to it with the requisite gusto. Although the (largely misjudged) humour mostly falls flat in Ibiza Undead, the zombie elements aren’t half bad. The make-up, in particular, is great, and the zoms are scary for the most part, too.
The idea that MDMA calms them, while alcohol sets them off, is a nifty one but, again, it goes mostly unexplored here (EDM seems to signal their arrival too, so avoid all future Skrillex gigs). There are some decent kills, including a glow-stick to the eye and when the situation calls for an amputation the lads coo over it with boyish glee. The accidental killing of a non-zom is arguably one of the funniest moments, save for a glorious payoff of one particular joke that almost sends everyone home with smiles on their faces.
Unfortunately, Ibiza Undead is mostly, like the lads at the centre of it all, a bit useless. It isn’t particularly funny and the horror elements aren’t strong enough to justify it as a real zombie movie. US audiences will be confused by much of it, in particular the Inbetweeners aping. The cast are all game for a laugh but wasted in one-note roles – the nagging ex-girlfriend, the nerdy Asian, etc. – and considering they shot on location, Ibiza doesn’t make much of an impact as a setting.
It’s all a bit like an episode of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Americans won’t get that reference either, which is fitting.
WICKED RATING: 3/10
Director(s): Andy Edwards
Writer(s): Andy Edwards
Stars: Emily Atack, Cara Theobold, Jordan Coulson, Ed Kear
Studio/ Production Co: Capital City Entertainment
Length: 95 minutes