By CHRIS HAMMOND
Starring Iani Bédard, Roy Dupuis and Marianne Fortier
Written and directed by Julien Knafo
With the winter season approaching, an exclusive Golf Club in Quebec hires a Multinational biotech company with “revolutionary” fertilizer that melts the snow and genetically modifies the grass so the club members with deep pockets can play golf all year long. The problem is the fertilizer also causes contamination of the water supply, which in turn transforms most of the residents of the town into Zombies. A teenage boy André, watches as the infection rapidly spreads throughout his neighborhood, leaving him to deal with the outbreak. while also looking after his baby sister Annie. Along with Dan, the community security guard and self-proclaimed survivalist, they attempt to find the source of the contamination, while also skirting zombies at either corner. In a race against the clock, they band together to find the cure before everyone they love turns into zombies and mutated grass.
Brain Freeze is in the same vein as many horror/comedy films that spotlight zombie outbreaks. The first two that come to mind are Shaun of the Dead (2004) and the Zombieland films. Mixing zombies into comedy films isn’t anything new, but Brain Freeze does an excellent job melding the two genres. What makes this film stand on its own merits is the situation in which people become zombies. Basically, it boils down to the fact that rich people want the ability to golf outside all year long. It’s an asinine reason, but is it really that farfetched ?. The other reason that these zombies are different from your run-of-the-mill film zombie is the fact that they bleed, green ooze, and grass actually starts growing over their freshly decaying bodies. At one point in the film, a zombie dog is shown, but this dog is more grass than a zombie at this point. This is an out-of-this-world unheard-of element that the film pulls off without a roll of the eyes or chuckle. The grass element mixed with French Canadian zombies felt awkward at first, but the fact that all the actors were on board, especially Roy Dupuis and Iani Bédard, really made this a fun flick.
Each of the characters throughout the film’s journey really grew on me (grin), André (Iani Bédard) becomes a protector of his baby sister and does the big brother thing with charm and care (although, when we first see him, he finds his sister to be more of a burden). Dan, who is played by seasoned actor Roy Dupuis plays the role with such heart, it is hard not to root for him. These two together play off each other so well, that you’d think that they have been starring in films together for years. The fact that I got so vested in their character’s survival is a good sign that they did their job with skill and finesse. I must also mention that Annie (André’s baby sister) was such a sweetheart in the movie. She had me rooting that nothing ever happened to her.
The film isn’t all comedy though, there are many sequences of high-energy zombie action. Zombie dogs, zombies, zombies everywhere. This is a highlight of the film, making the viewers also feel as isolated from safety as the characters are. What would a zombie film be without some flesh biting and gore? Brain Freeze does have the gore factor, but it is boosted up, especially when zombies look as though they are oozing awful kale smoothie juice from beneath their flesh. The violence is also shown in limbs being torn away from bodies and the standard bludgeoning to the skulls or bullets to the head. None of these scenes ever felt forced at all and really did add some tension, which made them all the more fun.
The one thing that Brain Freeze does sort of suffer from is the fact that it isn’t the first Zombie/Comedy film. There are times that viewers may find themselves going oh yeah, been there, done that. Although some of the setups you’ll see coming far away, Brain Freeze has enough originality to make it stand out, if not above some of the other films in this genre.
Brain Freeze is a must-see Zomedy with a soul of originality. The story is engaging and the cast act as if they’ve known these characters for years. The pacing and plot can sometimes get redundant, it isn’t enough of a problem to break the film’s enjoyability factor. The Cinematography by Marc Simpson-Threlford is stunning and really shows off the charm of Montreal (especially during the winter season). All three acts of the film keep viewers interested, right up until the credits roll. This is a Brain Freeze that entertains at every corner and never leaves you with a headache. One other thing I neglected to mention is the film is shot in French, but English subtitles are included, so be aware of that before going into it.
Brain Freeze is viewing (in theaters and virtually) at the Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival, which is running from September 18-26,2021
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