It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Here there be spoilers.

Zomboat is a six-episode British half-hour comedy, starring Leah Brotherhead and Cara Theobold as sisters Kat and Jo, alongside Hamza Jeetooa and Ryan McKen as bickering friends Sunny and Amar. The set-up is pretty familiar right from the start, everybody wakes up one morning to discover that the zombie apocalypse has begun, so they have to try to find safety somewhere away from Birmingham. Kat and Jo do what most sensible people would do: they steal Jo’s ex’s canal boat and set sail for London. Meanwhile, Sunny and Amar are trying to get home after a disastrous stag weekend for their friend when they discover the trains are all cancelled thanks to zombies, so they end up hiding on the boat.

From there, we get a pretty entertaining comedy that isn’t afraid to name-drop just about every zombie film or TV show ever made (except maybe Shaun of the Dead?) while mining the apocalyptic scenario for some serious laughs. If you’re not familiar with Birmingham or with canal boats, one of the central jokes is that they are extremely slow, which leads to the recurring joke over the first three episodes of doing a series of quick cuts (a ’la Edgar Wright) of the key turn, the engine revving, dials zooming to 100, then back to the exterior of the boat where it chugs along super slowly. It’s an obvious gag, but damn if I didn’t laugh every time.

Maybe that’s just me.

Luckily, the zombies here are the slowly shambling type, a point noted by Kat, the resident zombie expert, so the boat is just barely faster than they are, and the gang creeps along the river with a constant small herd of monsters just barely keeping up. It’s another running gag that works pretty well. It’s also a nice change of pace from the rest of the movies and shows we’ve been watching this marathon, where every one has featured the sprinting zombies.

Another nice touch is that the show isn’t afraid to go all in on the gore effects. There’s plenty of flesh tearing, bloody maws, dismembered bodies, and blood spray. In fact, the show isn’t afraid to go for the occasional firehose of blood gag that made me love Ash vs Evil Dead so much (here, it’s caused by a zombie that’s gotten lodged under the front tire of a getaway car, and when Jo rolls down the window to see the problem and steps on the gas to try and power over it, gets an extended spray of blood to the face).

The cast is all pretty good, with Leah Brotherhead really getting the spotlight as uber-videogame geek Kat. She has the fewest works on her resume, but really brings huge energy to the role and seems to be truly enjoying herself. Cara Theobold plays vapid pretty girl Jo with just enough self-awareness to make a character that could become annoying very quickly just endearing enough to like – especially as she’s the one who usually gets covered in gore, which is always funny. She’s not a stranger to zombies either, having been in the simply atrocious Zombie Spring Breakers, but she made up for it by then starring in the demon-hunting comedy horror series Crazyhead.

Hamza Jeetooa made his television debut in an episode of Luther Season 2, back in 2011 and has worked consistently ever since. His Sunny is sarcastic and negative – in a funny way – and he thinks he’s smarter than everybody in the room, which leads to a lot of the comedy as he bickers with his best friend Amar. Ryan McKen’s Amar is a lovable big doofus, obsessed with looking good and taking care of himself, to the point that it really annoys Sunny. So basically, every character has a good heart, but has plenty of personality and quirkiness to cause entertaining friction.

It’s a good solid formula and so far, it’s working pretty well, getting better and better with each episode. The highlight of these first three episodes has been Episode 3, where they come across the hotel where the boys held their stag and decide to stop and see if anyone survived the night. With jokes about zombie strippers, references to Portal and The Raid, Marvel and DC comics confusion, video game leveling up, and Donald Trump, the episode moves quickly, never slowing down until it ends with another huge blood splatter gag, centering on Jo.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this up, and hope that it can maintain this momentum to the end. Creators William Hartley and Adam Miller have put together a solid piece of entertainment that fills a niche gap that I didn’t even realize I was missing. This is all the more impressive due to the fact that it’s Hartley’s first try at writing a television show (he’s a comedic actor working a lot in British TV), and it’s been ten years since Miller’s last creator credit, with the adult puppet comedy Mongrels, which ran for 17 episodes back in 2010-2011. He’s also a journeyman television director and directs all of Zomboat’s six episodes.

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