Toronto After Dark Review: THE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALE

The quest for endless youth.  Is there anything more relatable?  Skincare, injections, surgeries… magic serums that give immortality, and the right balance of being undead, are all methods to achieve a youthful glow.  That’s the catalyst of THE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALE

When a family stumbles across a zombie, they tackle and attempt to restrain him, not before he bites the vain patriarch.  Fearing he would turn, he, in fact, turns young. He wakes up spry and with thicker hair and is the envy of all his aging friends.  So the family has an idea, monetize their new cure for baldness. They start selling zombie bites to the whole town, just a quick nibble from here to taut skin.  What ensues is a comedic romp of a family and their twisted lemonade stand, managing the relationships they have with “zongbie,” their new undead friend.  

South Korea has been an absolute slayer for film, especially horror, and THE ODD FAMILY is no exception.  This charming zombie comedy is layered with heart and a complete twist on everything we have come to expect from zombie movies, and even zombie comedies, and even zombie rom-coms, if we want to be absolutely precise about it.

There is a formula to zombie flicks, one that is used for the darkest of horror to the brightest of laughs, and this one ignores every rule.  The zombie apocalypse threat is turned into a story about a family exploiting a weird find to profit off of vanity, and the zombie himself is engaged in a love story with the daughter.

What this film does best is never take itself too seriously.  Though not camp or meta, it is simply a riot that never takes itself for more than it is.  In doing so, it has the ability to take something as twisted as a zombie romance and make it charming.  

This is the first feature for the director, Lee Min-jae, which is incredibly impressive.  This charming film is so beautifully shot and has perfect comedic timing and a nonstop line of gags.  This would be a feat for even a seasoned director, and this status as a “new flesh” spot makes it all the more remarkable.  

The biggest struggle this one had for me is its almost two-hour runtime.  It could speak to the Canadian attention span, but 2 hours is not the expected time commitment for a cute zombie comedy, and I definitely found myself checking the time and watching scenes thinking “this probably could have been cut.”

Though not a hotbed of references, fans will sense nods to other South Korean zombie champions, such as Train to Busan, which is a fun wink to those of us committed to the genre and is a fun prompt for new fans to expand their South Korean cinema horizons.  

Though the zombie genre has always felt fresh for those of us who can’t get enough of our flesh-eating pals, it’s rare to see a new addition break a tonne of barriers.  This South Korean darling manages to take the familiar and turn it on it’s rotting head and spill out the brains of something completely new.  

Lindsay Traves
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