Night of the Living Deb Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Cocksure Entertainment
Directed by Kyle Rankin
Written by Kyle Rankin and Andy Selsor
2015, 85 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest European Premiere on 29th August 2015
Ray Wise as Frank Waverly
Chris Marquette as Chaz Waverly
Maria Thayer as Deb Clarington
Michael Cassidy as Ryan Waverly
Syd Wilder as Stacy
Brian Sacca as Colonel Newton
Julie Brister as Ruby
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have a lot to answer for. While I adored their Shaun of the Dead upon its release and still look back upon it fondly, all these years later, there's no denying that the film's legacy is a slightly dubious one. For every Shaun of the Dead, there's a handful of films like Stag Night of the Dead or Lesbian Vampire Killers, which ignore Shaun's enormous heart and go straight for the laddish humour and slacker heroes at the centre of the thing. And the less said about those films' habit of dumping a great big zombie hand in the middle of the 'A', the better. It doesn't help that zombies are in vogue again anyway, with The Walking Dead and its imitators also doing their bit to saturate the marketplace.
Night of the Living Deb, then. A romantic zombie comedy about a woman (the titular Deb), who, following a one night stand with a drunken hunk, wakes up in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. As Deb and Ryan stumble about the place, not quite aware of what's going on, we're put rather uncomfortably in mind of Shaun of the Dead's earlier scenes, only with a broader, more American sense of humour. Bear with it though, for once you fall into the rhythm of things and get to know and like the characters, there's a lot to enjoy here.
Once it escapes from the pitfalls of setting up its characters and story, what emerges is one of the most charming zombie films of all time. Like a cross between The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and, yes, Shaun of the Dead, it's a hard film to dislike. Maria Thayer is perfect in the title role, being funny, vulnerable, likeable and yet slightly annoying all at the same time. Her Deb is a well-written, rounded character with more to her personality than just falling over a lot. It takes a while to get used to the broadness of the comedy (there's no horror aspect to the story) and Thayer's almost incessant hyperactivity, but once you get there, it's a hoot.
The story rarely stretches itself, but that gets you Ray Wise and Chris Marquette as a great father and son duo (they'd be scene stealers, if Thayer wasn't so consistently fantastic) and Syd Wilder as Ryan's monstrous fiancée. Its during the time spent at the Ray Wise family home that we get all the best lines and funniest jokes. Horror fans may bemoan the lack of scares or gore, but Night of the Living Deb doesn't need those things. What it does need is a better love interest for Deb – Ryan being the film's weakest link – but as a showcase for its title character, Night of the Living Deb doesn't disappoint.