Though neither the first undead comedy nor even the first romzomcom, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) set a very high bar for a particularly English brand of walking-dead comedy – and ever since there have been several other braindead Britflicks, like Jake West’s Doghouse (2009), Keith Wright’s Harold’s Going Stiff (2011), Mattias Hoene’s Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) and Christian James’ Stalled (2013), that have all been chasing that dragon with varying success. Now comes Andy Edwards’ Ibiza Undead, a film whose entire premise – and pitch – is encapsulated in the two words of its title. Make no mistake: the youthful British hedonists who flock to the Spanish isles for sun and sex, music and MDMA, are not just the subject of this film, but also very much its target audience. For anyone else, it’s caveat emptor.
A pandemic zombie virus reached the shores of the UK some time ago, and we all know the score. Yet amid the implied global breakdown (never regarded here as more than a quotidian irritation), the island of Ibiza, still free of the undead, continues to attract revellers from abroad. Three lads Alex (Jordan Coulson), Jim (Ed Kear) and Az (Hormuzd Todiwala) – joined awkwardly by Alex’s ex Ellie (Cara Theobald) – share a holiday villa with Alex’s older sister Liz (Emily Atack) and her best friend Zara (Algina Lipskis). With the males (especially with the Cartman-like Jim), there is casual misogyny and empty braggadocio, with just the occasional hint of vulnerability – and in case you missed the fact that this is essentially an unofficial third movie spinoff of The Inbetweeners, show regular Atack is there to confirm the suspicion.
What is different from the TV series (although of course very similar to a viral horde of other genre movies) is the presence of zombies. Accidentally introduced by gay clubowner Karl (Matt King) via two separate channels, they quickly take over the island, and become a somewhat confused metaphor for several things: on the one hand, the impending, inevitable half-life of dull adult conformity that these pleasure-seekers are striving, however momentarily and quixotically, to stave off; and on the other, the ‘wankered’, ‘shit-faced’ state of the Ibiza crowd itself, infecting an island paradise with the destructive rot that they have brought with them from home.
“I just wish it was vampires,” complains Zara. “Vampires are just, you know, sexier… Instead, zombies. They’re fucking disgusting. I wouldn’t want to be one, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to fuck one.” In Ibiza Undead, the zombies are just viewed as an unsavoury aspect of the overall meat market, unappealing yet difficult to avoid – and one of the film’s running gags is that, despite the unfolding apocalypse, everyone here continues trying to eke as much fun as they can from the rapidly fading party vibe. Whether that fun translates for the viewer is another question. There is some savvy, self-conscious wit to be found here, but also a lot of cake-eating sexism and hit-or-miss inanity, culminating in a blooper reel over the closing credits. If you are expecting the sophisticated appeal of vampires, you may be disappointed.
© Anton Bitel