Keeping in line with the horror comedy of something like Zombeavers, I watched the trailer for Burying the Ex. Here, we are introduced to Max (Anton Yelchin, of Star Trek fame) and his relationship problems. For reasons that are unclear (though not particularly important), he wants to break up with his girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene) but is struggling to actually go through with it. He’s relieved of the chance when Evelyn is hit by a bus, presumably just before he had worked up the courage to pull the trigger. After spending some time moping around his apartment, his friend urges him to get back out into the dating pool where he meets Olivia (Akexandra Daddario). However, as the trailer explains to us, some relationships just won’t die.
Evelyn rises from the dead to continue the relationship that she believes is still going strong, and this poses obvious problems for Max, who now has to juggle his undead ex while courting a new love. This is a familiar story in the rom-com world (the ex part, not the undead part), but it is a stroke of genius from writer Alan Trezza to take advantage of the zombie trope as a metaphor for the inertia of a failed relationship. The awkwardness of interacting with someone who does not believe a relationship has ended is palpable throughout the trailer, and is heighted by the almost visceral reaction we have to zombie hugs and make-out sessions (to say nothing of bone-cracking). This is a great idea for a horror comedy movie, and is significantly different from something like Warm Bodies, which showcased love as redemptive. Here we see love as the pesky, tumultuous emotion that can cause so much pain, which should help this film stand out from other zombie flicks.
More cause for excitement comes from the director of the film, Joe Dante. I’m going way back here, but Dante was the director behind Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch, as well as a few more spoofy titles like Innerspace and Small Soldiers. You’d never call any of these films spectacular (brainy Gremlin singing “New York, New York” notwithstanding) but they all have a peculiar comedic tone with science fiction or horror elements, and it looks as though Burying the Ex will be a successor in that regard. The acting talent assembled is very interesting as well, and the trailer offers a few hints at the chemistry between the leads. More than anything, though, I am intrigued to see exactly what this movie is trying to say about its subject matter, as it is clear to me that this will not be a brainless rom-com built to make everyone happy at the end. Even the very best break-up comedies struggle to handle the pain inherent in the dissolution of a romantic relationship, but perhaps by approaching this question from the angle of zombies, the film makers can skirt that issue and tell a strong story about relationships and love. Or, maybe they’ll just shoot Evelyn in the face with a shotgun. It really could go either way.