DVD Movie Review: Ibiza Undead (Zombie Spring Breakers)

By Thom Compton 18.12.2017

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Ibiza Undead (UK Rating: 15)

There are certain things any filmmaker can do to exponentially raise the chances a movie will be bad - adding a baby to a series that didn't previously have one, for instance. Any horror film's survival is bleak the second some smug exec, after sipping the foam off the top of his Maple Bacon Chai Latte, exclaims "We'll send the killer into space this time!" For comedy, that crushing blow is generally found in spring break films. Even more than frat movies, spring break comedies are almost never as good as they look. Ibiza Undead - known as Zombie Spring Breakers outside of the UK - manages to mash that losing formula together with the oversaturated horror trope, zombies, to create something both spectacularly awful, and yet somewhat enjoyable.

In this film's weird timeline, zombies are not only already attacking, but they are considered something of a public health crisis; a nuisance, like avian flu or HPV. This idea is actually pretty fascinating as it shows the world continues to exist while undead heathens meander around trying to bury their teeth into everyone's cheeks. How would the world exist if zombies didn't bring people to the grip of annihilation, and instead required the populace to live its lives as normal, just a bit more guarded?


 
Sadly, the cast of the film doesn't grasp this by the reins and run with it. Instead, this horse is sitting still at the gate. First up, there are the guys. Alex is a bit too easily influenced, and a bit too sarcastic and easily upset. Az is the weird, "nerdy" one who takes the brunt of the jokes from the group's main man. That main man is Jim, and he's awful. Every word out of his mouth is in service of him "getting some," or at least bragging about his many advantages in that department. It's not charming, though, and considering how much of the film he occupies, you will likely want to grab him about 20 minutes in, shake him, and exclaim, "Yes, we know you have a penis! Good for you!"

The girls are a little bit better. Liz (Emily Atack, The Inbetweeners) is Alex's older sister, who is already in Ibiza with her dear friend, Zara. These two are actually underutilised, as they are much smarter than pretty much everyone else in the group. Sadly, they spend the first half of the film as window dressing, and it's only as things start to fall apart that they become the obvious leaders of the group. In addition, there is Ellie (Cara Theobold, Downton Abbey), Alex's ex and the so called "prude." She's moderately enjoyable to get to know, but again, she doesn't really get a lot of time on screen, in comparison to the boys at least, so getting to know her is difficult.

Up next, the background cast, who are almost all cringe-worthy - a taxi driver who is clearly supposed to be Ibiza's totally rad drug dealer; an antagonist who's a cardboard cut out of an evil British man (smug, classy, calm); and the promo girl who is absolutely insufferable. Every second she's on screen, almost, she's screeching her lines, making her presence that much worse. It doesn't help that the actor portraying the taxi driver either can't play the part, or was only given twenty minutes to actually rehearse the role. The evil Brit, Karl (Matt King, Peep Show), is supposed to be a criminal mastermind, but he constantly makes ridiculous mistakes (one of which is so baffling it's kind of funny)…

…which is good, because almost nothing else in the movie is funny. Aside from a hand full of chuckles, laughter evaded this writer for the entire 94-minute run time. Jokes are usually derived from a simple formula: guy sees boobs; guy stares a long time; guy interacts with boobs through a verbal joke that's not funny. The other set of jokes are mostly listening to Jim come up with new ways to describe sex, as despite being almost a complete idiot, he has a seemingly infinite well of names for women he wants to sleep with and descriptions for genitalia. It's all so basic; it goes from being crass to stupid before the first twenty minutes is up.


 
Then there's the soundtrack. Now, dubstep is largely okay. However, thanks to the film's love of flashing lights (there are parties after all everywhere), it becomes a poor man's rave a bit too quickly. It drains the suspense of watching a zombie attack someone when it sounds like Skrillex is covering a song called "My First Dubstep" in the background.

The final complaint is the special effects, which are, in the film's defence, a bit of a mixed bag. Severely deteriorated facial tissue looks great on one early zombie. Sadly, his eyes look like holes cut in silicone, with the actor's real skin clearly visible in the eye holes. Two arms get attacked pretty heavily in the movie, and while one attack is gritty and realistic, the other is not. It's because you can make out the spot where the fake arm attaches to the actor's body. Really, the further the zombies are away, the better, otherwise they looks terrible a lot of the time.

Despite all of this, though, Ibiza Undead is actually quite a bit of fun to watch. The first half isn't, and if it weren't for the second half, this would largely be a mess of childish jokes and bad zombies. Fortunately, the second half gets you into the fly on the wall position, learning about each survivor and really getting to like them. Yes, that even includes Jim. The thing is so much of the film feels crass and unlikeable that once it actually does something personal, the whole experience changes. It doesn't really change into a good movie, mind you, but at least it is better.

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Not funny enough to be a good comedy, not scary enough to be a good horror movie, Ibiza Undead is something of a guilty pleasure film that fails to justify the pleasure. It's easy to see how someone could like it, but hard to see them admitting to it. The humour is largely sex jokes, the zombies don't look very good, the acting wanes from person to person, and the plot is largely unimportant. If you like zombies, there's really no way to recommend this film to you. If you don't, it's still not something that can be recommended. In short, don't bother with this movie.

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