While Jordan Rubin’s film about flesh craving furballs does exactly what it says it’s going to do in the title, Zombeavers surprisingly sets itself apart from the recent wealth of goofball high concept movies by playing itself just straight enough to be hilarious, but never too goofy as to be insufferably unfunny and forced. It’s the best case scenario for a film featuring hand puppets as villains.
A trio of BFFs head out to a cabin in the woods to for a girl’s weekend away. There’s the recently dumped Jenn (Lexi Atkins), hot and nerdy Mary (Rachel Melvin), and the acerbic, sarcastic, and sometimes mean Zoe (Cortney Palm). Their party gets crashed not only by the dudes in their lives (Hutch Dano, Jake Weary, and Peter Gilroy), but by some nearby beavers that got in contact with some medical waste that accidentally ended up in the river.
Although it takes place in present day, Rubin still carefully crafts his film to feel like every bit like a low budget cheapie. There’s no pretense to Zombeavers, and thankfully it doesn’t need it. The set-up doesn’t drag out, the gags never belabour themselves to points where they stop being funny, and the cheeky musical score (which hilariously can never quite figure out what it wants to do in a nice, purposeful decision) adds a suitable layer of silliness. It does go a bit astray in the final 15 minutes or so, with bits crafted obviously in the film to please the gorehounds, but the film never wears out its welcome, knowing to get out as easily as it came in.
The performances help, too, especially from Palm – who brings a surprising amount of layers to a character that could have been written off as a token asshole getting what she deserves – and Dano, who might be delivering the best Kyle Chandler impersonation I’ve ever seen.
But the real attractions here are those beaver puppets, gloriously practical effects that look delightfully shitty and less than scary. Think of an ever goofier Lake Placid and you’ll get the tone this film is aiming for. (Andrew Parker)
Saturday, October 18th, 7:00pm (SOLD OUT, RUSH ONLY), Scotiabank Theatre