Predictably crass, gory and potty-mouthed, Matthias Hoene's first theatrical feature is a lively affair as these things go, but lacks the distinctive humor and performances more discriminating tastes require (even when they're slumming).

The beans-on-toast of English zombie comedies (“Shaun of the Dead” had egg and kippers on top), “Cockneys vs Zombies” is good enough to amuse those who find the title alone a howl, but not so good that it can’t be safely skipped by everyone else. Predictably crass, gory and potty-mouthed, Matthias Hoene’s first theatrical feature is a lively affair as these things go, but lacks the distinctive humor and performances more discriminating tastes require (even when they’re slumming). Already released in several territories and sold to more, it should do well enough internationally among genre fans as a niche item.

The discovery of a subterranean tomb unleashes a zombie plague that fast envelops London — not fast enough, however, to stop hapless East End youths Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) from robbing a bank alongside two relatives (Michelle Ryan, Jack Doolan) and an overeager strongarm (Ashley Thomas).

They bungle the job, of course, but by the time they’ve seized two hostages (Georgia King, Tony Gardner) and are ready to negotiate, the cops have fled and the undead encroached. This lot tries to stay alive, while across town, the boys’ grandpa (Alan Ford) and other crusty, randy seniors barricade themselves inside a rest home. For anyone who enjoyed seeing venerable older British actors cussing like sailors and wielding machine guns in “Hot Fuzz” … well, there’s more of that stuff here.

Indeed, original ideas are few and far between, with the pic mostly getting by on hectic pacing and jokily over-the-top gore. Yuks are broad; ditto the performances (especially by the veteran thesps). But if “Cockneys” lacks wit and style, it nonetheless has sufficient brash energy to go down pretty painlessly. Packaging is pro.

Cockneys vs Zombies

U.K.

Production

A Tea Shop & Film Co. presentation in association with Limelight, Molinare Studiocanal and Kintop Pictures. (International sales: SC Intl., London.) Produced by James Harris, Mark Lane, Matthias Hoene. Executive producers, Simon Crowe, Matthew Joynes, Deepah Nayar, Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Michael Henay, Chris Hunt, Anand Tewari, Joe MacCarthy, Andrew Boswell. Directed by Matthias Hoene. Screenplay, James Moran, Lucas Roche, based on an idea by Hoene.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Daniel Bronks; editors, John Palmer, Neil Farrell; music, Jody Jenkins; music supervisors, Arnold Hattingh, Dave Goulding, Dominic Bastyra; production designer, Matthew Button; art director, Daniela Faggio; set decorator, Mark Stevenson Ellis; costume designer, Matthew Price; special makeup effects, Paul Hyett; sound, Ashok-Kumar Kumar; supervising sound editor, Simon Gershon; re-recording mixer, Nigel Squibbs; assistant director, James Nunn; casting, Gail Stevens, Colin Jones. Reviewed online, San Francisco, Nov. 8, 2012. (In Toronto After Dark, Fantasia film festivals.) Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Georgia King, Jack Doolan, Ashley Thomas, Tony Gardner, Tony Selby, Georgina Hale, Dudley Sutton, Richard Briers, Honor Blackman, Alan Ford.
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