Published Oct 19, 2014Man, I really wanted to like Zombeavers. Based on the trailer, which currently boasts over three million hits on YouTube, the film seemed like it belonged squarely in the pantheon of nature-strikes-back B-movies that hold a very dear place in my heart — from Lake Placid to Deep Blue Sea and Piranha 3-D. Hell, I even would have settled for a beaver version of Sharknado. Unfortunately, while Zombeavers tries its best to emulate its predecessors, it ultimately falls a bit flat on its execution.
The film opens with a truck laden with barrels of hazardous medical waste trundling down a rural highway. The distracted driver (hey there, Bill Burr!) hits a deer and a container rolls off into the river, floating upstream to a pair of baffled animatronic beavers as the title credits roll. We then meet the three female leads: Jenn (Lexi Atkins) Mary (Rachel Melvin) and Zoe (Cortney Palm) who are primed for a girls-only weekend at a cabin after Jenn catches her boyfriend stepping out. The girls traipse about in the disgusting-looking pond in front of the cabin as the beaver dam looms ominously in the foreground. There is also a boob shot. Later that evening, their boyfriends show up out of nowhere, including Jenn's former paramour Sam (Hugh Dano), who is immediately established as the worst. Some sex and arguing occurs and Jenn escapes to the bathroom, where she realizes something is waiting in the bathtub.
It's at this point that the movie simultaneously kicks into gear and jumps the shark. When the film's main characters are all so universally awful that you applaud the sight of the first zombeaver, it's time to accept the total lack of character investment and move on. Some of the stuff that follows is fun: the zombeavers actually look pretty good in all their tail-thumping, snarling glory, and there are some nice thematic throwbacks to '80s horror here, from the Evil Dead films to the "Raft" segment from Creepshow 2. However, a lot of the jokes and one-liners simply don't land — a shame for a film that is so self-consciously ridiculous.
First-time director Jordan Rubin also has some serious problems with pacing. There are unnecessarily long moments of dialogue that go nowhere, and are tonally inconsistent with the surrounding chaos. This film's female characters are also tragically underwritten. I know that's kind of the point when you're emulating shitty '80s horror movies, but surely Rubin and his male co-writers could have given these women a modicum of personality, if not agency.
All in all, this is a mildly diverting film — good for a hungover Saturday, but that's pretty much it.