I didn’t think I’d see a fresh take on zombies since the genre has been in far too many ways, but the Korean comedy The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale manages to pump a bit of life into the undead.
Joon-Gul (Jeong Jae-yeong) runs a small-town gas station that has seen better days with his wife Nam-Joon (Uhm Ji-won) sister Hae-Gul (Lee Soo-kyung) and father Man-duk (Park In-hwan). When a young man (Jung Ga-ram), the subject of some illegal drug trials resulting in a zombie state, stumbles into town, Hae-Gul generously takes him in. When the young man, whom they name “Zzongbie”, bites Man-duk, his children fear he will come back as the undead.
Surprisingly, Man-duk proves them wrong when he tells them he’s rejuvenated and feels better than ever. Seeing a business opportunity, their brother Min-Gul (Kim Nam-gil) decides to charge the town’s seniors for a bite of youth from Zzongbie. Unfortunately, the infected bites prove to follow zombie lore, and soon the town is run rampant with stumbling, bitey infected creatures. Forcing the family to both fight to save themselves and contain the crazed zombie townsfolk.
You can’t go wrong with a good zombie caper film, and first-time director Lee Min-jae’s great script is full of dry humour and lots of heart. The film builds up the story in a way that it keeps you guessing as to where it will end up. However, there’s guaranteed satisfaction thanks to its great characters and performances. Lee even slips in a timely lesson about the damage greed can do when you’re only thinking of the bottom line.
The Odd Family reminded me of Warm Bodies but funnier and less saccharine. There’s even a zombie rave of sorts and a quick reference to Train to Busan which played TADFF a couple of years ago, so it feels full circle to see this gem of a film come to the festival. My only issue was the length of the film. At an hour and fifty minutes, it’s a touch long, but I don’t think the die-hard After Dark fan base will notice since it’s really fun.
Saturday, October 19, Scotiabank Theatre, 6:15 PM