There are a lot zombie movies. There are quite a few zombie comedy movies.
Slicing that down further—like a machete slicing through the neck of an undead corpse—is the zombie romantic comedy subgenre. Perhaps the best example of this extremely specific subgenre is 2013’s Warm Bodies, which I believe Helen Liptak recommended I review at some point (I probably should be reviewing that today instead!). That is, indeed, an excellent, heartwarming (pun intended) film.
Instead, I’m reviewing 2019’s Eat Brains Love (also stylized as Eat, Brains, Love), a far inferior film that, despite some poor acting and writing, is not without its own shuffling charm.
The film offers a bit of a fresh twist on the typical zombie outbreak story: instead of being transferred by bite, the zombie virus is an STD, and it is kept carefully under wraps by the United States government through a secret, shadowy organization, the Necrotic Control Division (NCD). NCD employs individuals with extraordinary powers, like psychic abilities, to help hunt down zombies—and to erase the memories of survivors of outbreaks (so there are shades of 1997’s Men in Black as well).
The film opens with our protagonist, the stoner-slacker Jake Stephens, learning that he has failed a career aptitude test—a test that is impossible to fail. That’s the kind of humor that dominates the film. Jake has no direction in life, and the only thing he cares about is Amanda Blake, the popular hot girl in his school.
All seems well until Jake and Amanda both attack their friends, massacring a lunchroom full of hapless teenagers and cafeteria workers. In this zombie universe, zombies retain a great deal of their humanity after they feed, and only descend back into their deranged zombie state when they get hungry, or endure extreme stress. As long as they feed periodically, they can retain some semblance of humanity.
So, Jake and Amanda escape, and find they have been accused of perpetrating a school shooting. The two are on the lam, fleeing two agents from NCD: Cass and Tom. Tom is the muscle, and Cass is the psychic. While searching for the pair, Cass finds Jake to be incredibly human during his attacks, and finds his dry sense of detached humor to be to her liking.
Based on that flimsy connection, Cass begins quietly to aid Jake by obstructing the NCD’s investigation, until her boss—a shadowy psychic who wears a bow tie—coerces her into revealing Jake’s location.
Amanda and Jake grow closer on the road, as hot teens are wont to do, and Cass grows closer psychically to Jake—and jealous of Amanda (added to that teenaged jealousy is Amanda’s slaying of Cass’s partner, Tom). Cass eventually betrays the tyrannical NCD, and comes to believe that it is possible to find a cure for the zombie STD.
The unlikely trio (and, it is implied, love triangle) end the film reaching Iowa, which has become completely infested with zombies, unbeknownst to the public. The ending seems to be setting a up a sequel—possibly with the zombies banding together—but I don’t know if a follow-up is in the works, despite the film’s good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
I really did enjoy this film, but it will not be to everyone’s liking. The humor is kind of a blend of teen road trip comedies and stoner jokes. I’m not a big fan of the latter, but I do enjoy movies with quirky characters partaking in absurd hijinks. This flick fit that bill for me, at least.
The acting is not great, and the character motivations are a bit thin. Cass falls in love with a zombie, for goodness sake, after he makes one ironic remark while eating his best friend. I know teenagers are irrational and hormonal at times, but come on. The line deliveries are a bit thin, and Cass and Jake both speak in a detached, ironic manner (although Cass does possess a wide-eyed optimism that is endearing).
There’s a bit of slacker wish fulfillment in the film, too: Jake ends up with not just one girl, but two—one living, one undead. The girls clearly don’t like or trust each other, and they both like Jake, who is still kind of a loser at the end of the film. But he does grow as a character, and as he states at the end of the film, his life has gained direction as a zombie—a nice little bit of irony, given that he’s no longer alive.
All in all, I personally liked this film, but I’d have a hard time recommending it to all but the most dedicated of zombie movie fans. Warm Bodies is a better film in this specific subgenre, and is a better use of your time.
Regardless, the film does have a good message: be careful where you put your willy. You might end up getting them!