Directed by: Martijn Smits, Erwin van den Eshof | 87 minutes | horror, comedy | Actors: Gigi Ravelli, Yahya Gaier, Mimoun Ouled Radi, Sergio Hasselbaink, Uriah Arnhem, Noël Deelen, Carlo Boszhard, Ben Saunders, Nadia Palesa Poeschmann, Yesser Roshdy
The Netherlands and horror – it has not always turned out to be a happy combination. In the eighties, Dick Maas – a big fan of the genre – caused a short-lived revival of the Dutch horror film, mainly thanks to ‘De lift’ (1983). ‘Amsterdamned’ (1988), also by Maas, is in fact more of a thriller than a horror film. After Rudolf van den Berg’s ‘The Johnsons’ (1992), the Nederhorror remains silent for years. Only halfway through the ‘zeroes’ does the genre seem to be revived with films like ‘Doodeind’ and ‘Sl8n8’ (both 2006), but a boom did not occur. Maas tries again in 2010 himself with his successful horror parody ‘Sint’. Apparently Nederhorror is more successful if the makers don’t take themselves so seriously. Martijn Smits and Erwin van de Eshof must have thought that too. After having a good look at the British zombie comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (2004), they decided to make their own Dutch version of it. ‘Zombibi’ (2012) is a fat parody that unfortunately has surprisingly few successful jokes for a comedy.
A Russian space station crashes on top of an office building in the heart of Amsterdam. The mysterious virus this releases turns anyone who comes into contact with it into zombies. Aziz (Yahya Gaier) and his brother Mo (the inevitable Mimoun Ouled Radi) have no idea about this disaster: they spent the night in jail, just like Surinamese friends Jeffrey (Sergio Hasselbaink) and Nolan (Uriah Arnhem) and businessman Joris (Noel Deelen). Together with the tough cop Kim (Gigi Ravelli), who just like them has not yet come into contact with the virus, they have to reach the ‘safe zone’. For that they have to get through the mass of zombies. By the way, Aziz has even more on his mind. He is determined to save Tess, his handsome colleague in danger, from the zombies.
To get straight to the point: the jokes are thin on this according to the makers ‘first real summer thing’. Mo, Jeffrey and Nolan’s antics (because Aziz is way too serious) often fail to deliver more than a smile. The exception is the funny scene in which Mo and Jeffrey try to kill poor Nolan, who has been bitten by a zombie. A few bold side characters also provide a genuine smile. Carlo Boszhard puts down a nice parody of newsreader Jan de Hoop, Frans van Deursen indulges himself as a military Russian zombie expert and Michiel Romeijn is hilarious as a stoic and unintelligible Polish car mechanic. And also pay attention to the crazy contribution of Edo Brunner. Compared to them, the protagonists are poor. The boring Yahya Gaier seems out of place and Mimoun Ouled Radi plays the same character as always. Soap actress Gigi Ravelli is doing very well in her first film role and at least has enough charisma to captivate the audience. It is not entirely surprising that she cannot take the predictable and colorless story to a higher level. Her character, like everyone else, is much too flat.
Luckily, ‘Zombibi’ doesn’t take itself seriously at all. As a result, the film is still quite easy to look away. The fact that cast and crew must have had a lot of fun chopping off each other’s limbs and splashing around with green slime and fake blood, also argues for ‘Zombibi’. That’s why it’s such a shame that there are so few successful jokes in the movie and the zombies are tame and not terrifying at all. This leaves little more than unpretentious and wafer-thin entertainment.