Zombeavers is a film I had heard good things about, and at one point I did nearly end up buying it on DVD, but it just sounded a little too silly even if it is kinda about zombies. I am pretty sure the title was come up with long before any semblance of a plot was formed.
A canister of toxic chemicals is accidentally knocked into a lake, finally ending up at a beaver dam where the chemicals spray all over the creatures. Not long later Mary, Zoe and Jenn arrive at Mary's cousins log cabin by the lake for a weekend of relaxation (followed soon after by their boyfriends) but the group soon encounter a mutated beaver which they mistake for having rabies. The following day mutated beavers (zombeavers) attack en mass and the group end up barricaded in their cabin under assault from a pack of undead creatures. With one of their group missing a foot they desperately need to find a way to escape the evil things and get to a hospital...
This is a dumb film and it does know it to its credit. The zombeavers are puppets or animatronics and look very unrealistic, but again this is purposeful. I was expecting goofy but a lot of the time this is played straight by the actors, humour coming out from the situation they have found themselves in, and throw away lines. Just like The Slashening I watched a few days back this film falls down on its over reliance of poor sex jokes, it's obvious there would be jokes about the other use of the word beaver but this is milked to saturation point. These jokes stop after around the half hour mark but for me a lot of the damage had been done.
At times this felt like Night of the Living Dead but with animals, during the siege scenes they burrow tunnels to burst out through holes, the wooden barricades are found to be completely ineffectual as they just chew right through the wood, one point one being attacked by a baseball bat chews the bat apart. Their dead eyes glow in the dark leading to some cool exterior shots of glowing eyes all watching. They seem to be pretty much unkillable, even ripped in half and pinned to a table top one keeps trying to kill.
A twist later on in the film has the bitten victims of the zombeavers turning into human zombeavers; growing thick padded tails and big teeth bursting out their gums, they look really creepy as well as very surreal. Just about anything seems to be able to turn, there is even a bear zombeaver at one point, as well as a fun after credits sequence. The creatures have more intelligence than regular zombies, the zombeavers chew through all the phone wires and block the roads with fallen trees, while the human zombeavers are able to use weapons, was a nice touch rather than having them all completely brain dead. Humans turning into zombie creatures has been done before, Zombie Virus on Mulberry Street where infected turn into human rat zombies springs to mind.
At around one hour seventeen this rolls along at a rapid pace, once the zombeavers make themselves known there is not much down time, it plays along predictably with no character I felt any affinity for. The girls are all wafer thin and barely clothed, the guys are all idiots, while the extra characters all seem to be perverted. Comedian Bill Burr appears in a bit part and he was probably the funniest character of the lot, both opening and closing the film with an amusing scene. The acting is less goofy than I was expecting but was pretty dull overall.
Zombeavers seem to improve with each passing minute, by the end I was mildly engrossed, enough to not notice the passing of time at least. There are some slightly funny bits, the character of Sam (Hutch Dano) in particular had some funny lines he played pretty straight faced, while the ridiculous nature of the plot led to some amusing sequences such as when the survivors are consulting a wildlife book to try and work out how to defeat the creatures, made me chuckle.. Overall though this did not feel like it did anything different enough to stand out, sure there are zombie beavers but that doesn't make enough of a difference, I have seen ones like this many, many times before. They should have embraced the crazy situation more rather than try their best to play it down.