Burying the Ex (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Burying the Ex

Dir. Joe Dante, US, 2014, 89 mins

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario, Oliver Cooper

Joe Dante is back, offering more of his macabre inspections into being young and in love; Anton Yelchin and Alexandra Daddario play like a modern take on Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with the difference being that the thing coming between them isn’t a horde of vicious little monsters – it’s a zombified brain-hungry super-high-maintenance ex-girlfriend, prone to particularly violent bouts of jealousy.

In true screwball horror form, a scary-looking satanic idol delivered to Max at the horror memorabilia store (sure) he works at ends up granting his mumbled, unsure pronouncement to his long-time girlfriend Ashley Greene of being together forever a certain kind of reality after she is knocked down by a bus… only to return from the grave soon after. Being that Max had called her down to the park that day to break up with her, his feelings are all over the place, and Anton Yelchin sells the exasperation at what is already an untenable situation before the zombie aspect comes into play. No one wants to hurt someone they care about, to break their heart – let alone see them hit by a bus. And worse still, raised from the dead to have their skin and hair slowly scrape off in chunks.

Ashley Greene is terrifying to behold even before she comes back from the dead; a true nightmare girlfriend, her Evelyn guilt trips Max constantly, moves in with him and redecorates his apartment without his say-so, and is constantly rude to his half-brother and the people they interact with in their everyday life – including Olivia (Daddario), the endearingly-awkward owner of a nearby frozen yoghurt establishment with all the same interests as Max (you can see where that’s headed). Once she does return as a card-carrying member of the living dead, things go from bad to worse, and her ability to completely freak out and lose her sh*t at a moment’s notice is very enjoyable to behold – made worse by the homicidial cannibalistic tendencies, of course. There are a number of moments where she is a genuinely frightful creature – a facet of the film perhaps undercut by its main artery flowing with dark humour. Sometimes the gags work, sometimes they don’t.

Oliver Cooper’s douchebag, womanising brother-in-law Travis (of course his name is Travis) is a highlight of the film, adding his own incredulous reactions to Max’s guiding him in his decisions in that lovable American arsehole way. He elevates most scenes he’s in, provided you’re down with that kind of humour.

There’s an extremely relatable bent to the film in its depiction of a young man seemingly stuck in a bad relationship, easily swayed by staying in a poisoned relationship with the promise of sex to satiate his young hormones. There’s also a good (if rather on-the-nose) parallel with certain real-world relationship problems, wherein your ex might still be on the scene at the onset of a new fling. It’s hardly highbrow fare, but the film does hold a few layers, much like the runt in a harvest of onions.

It’s brisk and entertaining, and will speak to people in their early 20s more so than anyone else. Of that audience, the humour won’t be for everyone, and the gross-out horror moments – like Evelyn throwing up embalming fluid on Max’s face – will only entertain a small portion of that crowd. There are worse ways to spend 89 minutes, and it’s a must-see for fans of horror luminary Joe Dante, who proves he’s still got gas in the tank after all this time. Retaining Alan Trezza as writer and producer was also a good move, as this feature length adaptation of his original short retains a certain amount of heart and authenticity that helps Burying the Ex be a satisfying watch.

Review by Daniel Woburn

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Burying The Ex is available for digital download now.