Gallows humor isn't for everyone, but those who can appreciate some comedy amongst the macabre are in for a real treat with Ben Kent's Killer Weekend. The film is a skillful blend of the very dark and the extremely funny and it is actually a less obvious incongruence that keeps it from being above the herd - the inconsistent and conflicting performances from the cast...
...Luckily, there is some true talent that is able to carry the film and when the humor lands the true potential can be seen. And there are more of those moments than not.
Killer Weekend tells the story of Sam’s (Sean Verey) bachelor party which has been set up by his friends as a weekend of adventure that involves surviving a "zombie" outbreak. Sam sees this silly event as a way to win his soon to be father-in-law Gerald's approval. Gerald, played by the brilliant Mark Heap, is the strongest link in the film. His performance as a former "secret" military man plays perfectly against Sam's boyish attempts to be liked. This dynamic adds a relatable through line to the feature. After the introduction of the rest of Sam’s friends, the group meets the ex-military cohorts who run the event and act as both instructors of the game and also as the zombies. As the crew is separated into two teams and sent out into the woods, one of the groups simply plays the game while the second, which includes Sam and his friends, encounters an accident that sends them down a far darker path.
The film was released in the UK under the title Fubar, which in many ways sums up Sam's weekend with his friends in the woods fighting off zombies, but does not do it as much justice as Killer Weekend. So applause to whoever made the choice to change it upon the international release. Killer Weekend works on two levels because they are there to "kill" zombies, and once the first incident happens they, in fact, do have a killer weekend.
Personally, I wouldn't label Killer Weekend as a horror film and those going into the film with expectations that it will be might be disappointed. Killer Weekend is a dark comedy that relies heavily on British sensibilities and more personal relations than typical horror fare. That’s not to say it isn’t downright freaky once the action moves things forward. However, it’s definitely not a slasher, nor is it a zombie flick, the easiest and laziest thing that they could have done is turn the “zombies,” into zombies and they don’t. They go for a much more clever route, one that works wonders even when some of the actors fall a bit flat.
The script, written by Kent and Joel Wilenius, is truly brilliant and elevated by the aforementioned performance by Mark Heap, who steals every scene he is in. The other stand out performance is by Danny Kirrane, who plays Eric, the character who sets up the zombie adventure for the bachelor party. He has one of, if not the most brilliant moments where he is arguing with Sergeant Major about why they can’t shoot the “zombies” in the head, though in popular culture the headshot is, in fact, the kill shot. This extensive scene is one of the high marks in humor and definitely follows the “if there is a gun in the first act” model of storytelling.
Both Kirrane and Heap exhibit exceptional comedic timing and pacing and work so well with every other performer they engage. It is a shame that the same cannot be said for many of their co-stars. Luckily, they manage to keep the rest of the actors above water and are separated onto the two different teams, meaning at least one of them is on screen at most times. I wonder if this was by design or if it was a late minute decision to keep the flow of the comedy going, as some of their performances at times seems like the dialogue might have originally been intended for another actor. Though nothing is so off-putting that it takes the viewer out of the story; and the script is so well put together it carries even the lesser cast members, which sadly outweigh the few who make the script come alive.
Killer Weekend is ultimately a film worth checking out if one is in the mood for a very dark, dry film that has a wicked sense of humor.
Killer Weekend hits VOD and DVD on February 18th, 2020 from Dark Sky Films.
By Justin Drabek
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