By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Starring Jesse Rennicke, Alex Galick and Squall Charlson
Written and directed by Wayne Harry Johnson Jr.
The only thing worse than a terrible horror film is a terrible horror/comedy, because those you can’t even laugh at. That’s AHOCKALYPSE all over, a staggeringly unfunny mix of sports and zombies that qualifies only as an 80-minute foul.
The only surprise is that this flick (on VOD this Friday) doesn’t hail from Canada—it was shot in Minnesota—so at least we don’t have to suffer through “aboot” jokes. Instead, we have to suffer through fumbled slapstick, sniggering, sub-junior-high sex humor and callbacks to other movies (from FROZEN to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD to, especially, HOME ALONE) that would get a Mad magazine writer tossed out the nearest window. The, ahem, action begins at the very aptly named Dullworth Arena, where the Prairie Kings hockey team scores a victory over their rivals, the Ice Cats. They barely have time to celebrate before they find themselves in the midst of a zombie outbreak—or at least, that’s what we’re told is happening. For quite some time, the attackers are filmed in long shots, with no close-ups to identify them—and when we do eventually get a good look at the “ghouls,” they wear no makeup beyond dark circles around their eyes.
As the Kings and a couple of female hangers-on flee from one place to another seeking sanctuary, writer/director Wayne Harry Johnson Jr. demonstrates exactly one idea of how to shoot these scenes: Have the cast all run into the middle of a shot and then flail their way through banal, mirthless dialogue. Nobody involved shows any sense of comic timing, and the punchlines sometimes don’t exist. At that opening hockey match, we’re introduced to a couple of players named “Vlad Putin” and “Little Donnie Trump,” which seems like the setup for a gag that never pays off, and when a flesheating toddler is thrown off a bridge, we don’t see the result, just the characters’ reactions. Even a promising bad-taste bit involving a zombie on crutches is botched. Every so often, there’s a cutaway to the Kings’ bear-headed mascot and a couple of female sidekicks engaging in poorly staged martial-arts brawls with the undead—who at certain points in the movie aren’t even there, but rather poorly composited into the shots via ultra-cheap CGI.
As if the constant comedic misfiring wasn’t bad enough, AHOCKALYPSE sports an unhealthy amount of gay-panic humor. The low point occurs when the survivors try to find shelter in the Cajun Club, whose lisping owner forces two of the guys to do an endless striptease routine. When our heroes make their last stand against the living dead at an ice arena, we finally get a little bit of mayhem—but unfortunately, it’s rendered with cartoony digital gore, and integrating it into an overall exaggerated stylistic approach is clearly beyond the filmmakers.
Toward the end of these 80 minutes that feel a lot longer, someone says, “I thought they smelled bad on the outside,” an attempted riff on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK that instead serves as a fitting epitaph for a film that stinks all over. AHOCKALYPSE does do zombie fans one favor, however: It’ll make settling the debate about the worst modern undead movie a lot easier.