A film I really wanted to love more
by Nav Qateel
Seconds before Max (Anton Yelchin) can dump overbearing girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene), she’s smacked by a bus and killed while crossing the street. Unfortunately for Max, Evelyn refuses to stay dead.
Max works in a novelty horror shop, but dreams of one day owning his own place. Evelyn is an environment blogger, who’s a tad extreme with the whole being green issue. She moves in with Max, then attempts to push her values onto him. The final straw comes after an incident in an ice cream parlour, where a wildly jealous Evelyn loses it with Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), the pretty young woman who owns the store. “Do you know what they actually put in this stuff?! You’re practically poisoning your customers!” yells Evelyn. Max has had enough of Evelyn’s craziness, and takes the advice of half-brother Travis, deciding he should call off the relationship. And that’s when death takes Evelyn. However, due to Max and Evelyn making a pillow-talk promise to always be together, while sitting next to a mysterious wish-giving toy genie, death is no longer a barrier for the literally rotting Evelyn.
This is the sort of role Anton Yelchin excels at, where his boyish looks and geeky-like awkwardness add an extra dimension to his characters. Two films leap immediately to mind, Fright Night and Odd Thomas, where we could almost interchange any of the characters with Max, and still get similar results. In this case, however, it felt like Dante was a bit too heavy-handed when using Yelchin’s baby-faced charm, resulting in this on-the-nose delivery that started to get less endearing and more annoying as the film went on. This also gave the effect of it seeming like Dante was being clumsy rather than Max.
Ashley Greene’s character Evelyn, seemed a rather unlikely match for Max, so the apparent lack of chemistry the pair had with one another, felt very natural rather than by design. Twilight alum Greene, still has a residual following thanks to that shiny vampire franchise. The actress seems to be gravitating more towards low budget horror than any other genre, with this film being a bit more upmarket to what we’ve seen Greene in recently. I particularly enjoyed her clingy-zombie-girlfriend performance, which was perhaps the highlight of Dante’s effort.
Alexandra Daddario plays Olivia, the girl we all know that Max is meant to be with. Olivia is more of a generic character, which one assumes is to prevent Evelyn from being upstaged, as she is the intended focus of the film. Daddario easily handles her character, but never resorts to simply dialing in her performance, and works hard with the limited material. In fact, all the actors soldier on and perform well, considering they’re working from a script that’s only real surprise is just how uninspiring it actually is. If this were simply a zombie movie, then one could argue that we’re all sick to death of seeing them, hence, the reason Burying the Ex feels rather flat. But this is a comedy-horror where one of the characters just happens to be a zombie.
Most of the comic-relief was handled well by Oliver Cooper, who plays Max’s half-brother Travis, a highly unlikely womanizer. Travis is forever using Max’s apartment to have casual sex, as witnessed near the beginning, when Max arrives home to find a naked Travis and two semi-naked females sleeping off a threesome in his living room. Other than Evelyn, Travis was about the most interesting character.
Cult director Joe Dante, has crammed in more pop culture and horror movie references than you can shake a zombie’s arm at, yet that just isn’t enough to breath much needed life into the anemic Burying the Ex. Horror fans will love spotting the constant references being made, from things like “Romero & Sons” moving truck to the old Hammer movies with Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing battling Christopher Lee’s Dracula. I’m certainly glad I watched Burying the Ex, but whether I’ll be up for a second helping is very much in doubt.