The film is a blend of several sources: “Dawn of the Dead,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “The Mist,” and “The Office.” Fortunately, it is not a mere knockoff of each, but a work that stands unto itself.
Written and directed by Indiana-based filmmaker Joshua Hull, “Beverly Lane” is a charming, low-budget zombie comedy. Hull uses the budgetary constraints to his advantage, framing the film within a small office party, thus lending it claustrophobic, comedic tension when the zombies emerge.
Featuring clowns, a mime, a magician and one-fourth of a barbershop quartet, the party is surreal from the get-go. So when the zombies arrive, the characters’ reactions are amusingly blasé.
As in most films of this genre, the zombie epidemic is simply a catalyst for other conflicts. The tension comes less from the threat of zombies than the problems already simmering in the workplace: ageism, sexism, downsizing, etc. Like “The Office’s” Dunder Mifflin, the company in this film is a microcosm of our country’s fractious society.
Noah East is the film’s Jim Halpert, trying to keep everyone together with tongue planted firmly in cheek. He exudes comedic charisma as does Jim O’Rear’s obnoxious magician.
Near the end of the film, East delivers a tender, poignant monologue that perfectly sums up the film, comparing the terrors of a zombie apocalypse to the hardships of the workplace. The scene is a reminder of what great horror films do — they hold a funhouse mirror up to our everyday fears.
Back to my mix tape analogy: While the film is enjoyable, it is not without a few scratchy, rough patches. But there are definitely seeds of a great movie inside it. Familiar and fresh at the same time, “Beverly Lane” is a must-see for horror fans.
Nicely packaged with beautifully illustrated cover art and boasting entertaining outtakes and commentary, the DVD makes for a worthy addition to any horror collection or DVD library, period. It is available now at www.beverlylanemovie.com.
Film:3.5 yaps Extras: 4 yaps