This is probably the first romantic zombie movie I’ve ever seen and definitely the first zombie movie that’s based on true events. Well, the zombie part isn’t true but the characters of Denise and Danny are based on the director’s real life sister and brother-in-law. In fact, the entire movie reflects their real lives together. The real Danny and Denise were newly weds who quit their jobs to move to Portugal. Danny was a surfer and wanted to live where the waves were beautiful and accessible. Right before they were supposed to leave, Danny died in a surfing accident. The director created this movie as a valentine for his sister and her strength and ability to get through such a tragic loss.
In Sickness and in Health
Denise and Danny are newlyweds who are starting their new lives as one flesh. Unfortunately, things get messy when Danny is attacked by a zombie and slowly turns into one. Will Denise stick with Danny, even when he begins to rot and his hunger for human flesh grows too strong to ignore?
As with the real people, Denise and Danny quit their jobs and beginning to build a married life together. One day, at the beach, a zombie emerges from the waves and attacks Danny. He dies in the hospital but then comes back to life. Mistaken for a miracle, Danny is actually slowly undergoing a transformation into a zombie. Soon, it becomes apparent that Danny is not quite okay when Denise catches him munching on a fat neighbor. From then on, Denise struggles with this new found kink in their plan as Danny struggles (and often fails) not to eat people.
What I liked about this movie was the character development. I really cared about Denise and Danny and really rooted for them. The film wouldn’t have worked if these two characters weren’t likable. The chemistry was great between the two leads as well. I could really see the connection between them and almost read the heartbreak on Denise’s face when the ugly truth about Danny’s condition came out. In fact, the movie slowly burns along and the zombie action doesn’t take place until about halfway through the movie. The director took the time for us to get to know these people and care about them before plunging them into terror.
Even the zombie mayhem wasn’t overly done. This isn’t a typical zombie splatter fest. Yes, there as blood and even a bit of gore but it was controlled and not done just for the sake of gore. The focus here was not on eating hearts, but breaking them.
My only problem with the movie was the uneven mix of drama, comedy and horror. For example, after Denise catches Danny during one of his all you can eat body buffets, it is very much played out like he’s been cheating on her. Denise is frightened and disgusted and in a bit of shock. Danny, covered in blood, tries to calm her down and explain his actions to her. The tension is real and thick. After a great deal of hesitation on Denise’s part, she decides to work it out with Danny. Suddenly, the couple’s friends ring their doorbell and from there they launch into a bumbling, comedic clean up scene where they try to wash the blood off the floor and hide the dead body in the bathroom. These kinds of jostling transitions in mood didn’t feel right to me. It almost felt like the flick didn’t know where to go with its direction and so it went everywhere. That’s really only a minor peeve, though. Overall, a great flick and a romantic and kind of sad one as well.
If you like your love notes written with blood and brain matter, you might enjoy this movie.
4 out of 5.