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With: Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Hutch Dano, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy, Rex Linn, Brent Briscoe, Phyllis Katz, Robert R. Shafer, Bill Burr, John Mayer
Written by: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan
Directed by: Jordan Rubin
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence/gore, crude sexual content, graphic nudity, and language throughout
Running Time: 77
Date: 03/20/2015

Zombeavers (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dam Good

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the movie Ed Wood (1994), our intrepid director is in a pitch meeting with a producer. Ed asks, "is there a script?" The producer replies,"Fuck no! But there's a poster!" Over the past century, publishers realized that they could sell just about any old novel if it had a lurid enough cover and an inviting enough title, and it wasn't long before moviemakers did the same. A great title and a great poster were often just enough to get a movie released, and to get ticketbuyers in the seats. After that it didn't really matter if the movie delivered or not.

And thus the tradition continues with Zombeavers. I know nearly all the tricks of the trade by now, and yet when I received a press release about this movie — with its tricky wordplay title (zomBIE BEAvers! Awesome!) — I was suckered into watching it. The filmmakers did their job.

The movie isn't a complete waste of time. It begins with two ridiculous backwoods hick types (one of them played, mind-bogglingly, by the popular but awful singer John Mayer, and the other by Bill Burr), driving a truck full of nuclear waste or what-have-you. (It's a bunch of barrels covered with warning stickers and filled with glowing, green goo.) These guys have the funniest dialogue in the movie, and it sounds like non-sequitur riffing, the kind of stuff that would make you and your pals laugh on a road trip. They hit a deer and drop one of the barrels into the water, where it floats downstream during the credits sequence, and comes to rest on a beaver dam.

Cut to three college girls taking a weekend getaway trip to a remote cabin (of course!). The bespectacled Mary (Rachel Melvin), and the sassy, sexy Zoe (Cortney Palm) are trying to cheer up their beautiful, melancholy blonde friend Jenn (Lexi Atkins), who caught her boyfriend cheating on her on Facebook. It's not long before the trio heads to the lake, and Zoe frees her beautiful twins for some no-tan-lines sunbathing. There, they meet a creepy hillbilly, Smyth (Rex Linn), who warns them about... well, nature and stuff.

It's supposed to be a boy-free weekend, but of course, the three doofus boyfriends show up. Mary's boyfriend Tommy (Jake Weary, who, astoundingly, is also in this week's exceptionally awesome horror film It Follows) seems like a pretty good stand-up guy, and he's the one who heroically runs for help when the zombeavers attack, but the other two (Hutch Dano and Peter Gilroy) are the kind of idiots that make you wonder how they ever earned the right to be with such gorgeous girls.

At first there's only one zombeaver, in the bathroom, and Tommy kills it, twists it up in a trash bag, and leaves it on the porch. In the morning, it seems to have chewed its way out and gone back home. At the lake a whole bunch of zombeavers attack, and one of the doofuses creates a distraction by throwing Zoe's dog into the water, then waiting just a few beats too long before taking advantage of it. Before long, the zombeavers have cut the phone lines, and cut off all access to the main roads. (Of course, as in all modern horror films, cell phones have no reception here.) Then, in one of the best scenes, we learn what happens when a human is bitten by a zombeaver.

To his credit, director Jordan Rubin seems to have used animatronic, or puppet beavers rather than digital visual effects, which, even though they look fake, actually appear to be in the room with the humans. He delivers a fair amount of nudity and gore, and a few laughs, and wraps the whole thing up in a brief 77 minutes. The problem is that it still feels a bit too long. The actual characters and their interactions aren't involving enough to last through even that skimpy running time. This movie's idea of drama is having the characters contradict and yell at each other throughout every scene, as if simply saying, "no you're not," and "yes I am," creates conflict.

But I have already written more words, and put more thought into this movie than it probably deserves, or that anyone cares about. There are two types of people: those that roll their eyes when they hear the title Zombeavers, and those whose eyes light up. You know who you are, and you are welcome to join me.

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