Trailers are typically a good indicator of what to expect out of a movie’s basic plot and overall tone. However, these glimpses aren’t always 100% spot on when it comes depicting their full-length counterparts. Films like Monsters (2010), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and The Wicker Man (2006) are all guilty of featuring misleading publicity. Released last year, the original trailer for Zombeavers suggests a horror-comedy where a horny bunch of kids fight off flesh-hungry beavers. Does Zombeavers live up to its trailer’s ridiculous vibe, or is it another case of false advertisement?
In concept, Zombeavers is another cabin-in-the-woods scenario: college roommates Jen (Lexi Atkins), Mary (Rachel Melvin) and Zoe (Courtney Palm) are spending the weekend together at a remote lake house. Meanwhile, a pair of irresponsible of truck drivers (Bill Burr and John Mayer) accidentally lose a barrel containing medical waste. Of course, it’s not ordinary medical waste as it – upon reaching a beaver dam – transforms the water-dwelling rodents into the film’s titular critters. Expectedly, the zombified beavers don’t take kindly to girls and their rowdy boyfriends, and what started as a weekend getaway turns to a bloody fight for survival.
Like most films from the genre, the characters in Zombeavers aren’t particularly deep or multi-layered, and tend to lean towards Slasher stereotypes. Then again, these films aren’t necessarily about the characters or their relationships to one another, but rather how they react to the situation at hand. Initially, the main group six come off as a believable bunch of young adults with the girls being a mix of playful and catty, while the guys are all appropriately bro-tastic. When the beavers begin their attack, though, some of the reactions are fantastic. Listening to actor Peter Gilroy let out an elongated high-pitched scream, whilst curled up in a ball next to a killer beaver, is guaranteed to crack smiles. Much like the Hatchet films, the actors don’t take their roles too seriously and their portrayals even come off as self-aware at the absurdity of the film’s events.
In spite of the film’s recycled setting, the writing is witty. Lines like “It’s just those kids scissoring each other to Lady Gaga” are outrageously funny, meanwhile, the clichéd “that’s exactly what the beavers would want,” feels intentional and reinforces how silly creature-features can be.
The film may primarily focus on the human characters, but the zombie-beavers are still stars of the show. Unlike a lot of recent creature-features, Zombeavers relies more on practical effects than it does computer-generated images. The beavers themselves are largely a combination of animatronic and hand-operated puppets, both of which look great in an intentionally goofy-kind-of-way. Watching the milky-eyed monsters burst through floorboards and skitter on land never grows old, and adds to the overall tongue-in-cheek humor.
It goes without saying that Zombeavers‘ absolutely delivers on providing the wild and hysterical experience promised by the film’s trailers. It successfully manages to channel Night of the Living Dead (1968), Attack of the Killer Shrews (1959), and Gremlins (1984) all into one absurdly enjoyable flick. Had Zombeavers been intended as a serious horror film, it would have undoubtedly been just another failed attempt at trying to make Mother Nature scary. Luckily, that isn’t the case and the end result is a crude, silly, and self-aware critter fest.