Part satire and part romantic-comedy, Boy Eats Girl should be looked upon as a homage to the classic 70s horror genre and not a poor effort at recreating the success of Shaun of the Dead. Hailing from Ireland, the movie takes plenty of liberties in its characters settings and mannerisms. Not wholly European as youd expect, but it works on most levels, just not so much on the humour however.
Nathan (David Leon) is the heartbroken teenager who accidentally kills himself after making the mistake of witnessing the love of his young teenage life, Jessica (Irish pop sensation Samantha Mumba) in a compromising situation with his schools Lothario. Nathans mother (Deirdre O'Kane) finds his lifeless body in his room and remembers the handy book of resurrection spells that shed found just days earlier in the bowels of the church that she works at.
As easily as you can say beginners luck, she manages to bring back her son and gets him ready for the next day of school. Nathan starts to feel the effects of his zombification when he starts to feel impervious to pain and feels hungry all the time. His 2 pals, Henry and Diggs (Laurence Kinlan and Tadhg Murphy) who, at times, seem even less shiftless than their dead friend, get worried when they see Nathans disenchantment with Jessica vanish.
At the school disco, resident slut and girlfriend of the toughest jock in school, Cheryl (Sara James) propositions Nathan. Not exactly willing to do Nathans bidding, she ditches him. Unfortunately for Nathan, the jock boyfriend follows him as he stumbles on to the rugby pitch. Normally, this would be a cakewalk for bully-kind everywhere but Nathans newfound undead ability of super-strength makes it easy for him to overpower the jock. He finally gives in to temptation and takes a couple of deadly chunks out of him. Nathan runs home and is given the bare bones of his worsening condition by his mother who promptly locks him in the garage as she finds a cure. Things start to get a whole lot worse for him after last nights attack starts a chain reaction of killings, each spawning a more vicious version of Nathans condition.
The plot borrows heavily from a handful of movies, especially the 1993 cult classic, My Boyfriends Back with virtually the same sub-plot of unrequited love between the unfortunate undead and his high-school sweetheart. As most will use Shaun of the Dead as a touchstone in understanding the films comedy/gore tandem, its intended use of black comedy and detached humour falls short.
The backyard splatter that comes from fending off ravenous classmates and neighbours is refreshing to see and is done well. The violence and the reactions of the harried survivors are always tongue-in-cheek, which is satisfying, as the zombie horde never comes close to being scary, just downright silly. The flaying of skin and removal of limbs is a requisite in any good romp through a town full of undead. However, the gore starts off perfunctory, not exactly a good sign when it takes almost half the movie to get there.
As the film progresses to its climax, a visible shift in priorities takes place. Suddenly, the story stops and a zombie free-for-all takes place, courtesy of a pimped out tractor and surge of adrenaline from the heroine. As the movie is a relatively short enterprise, clocking in at about 77 minutes (including credits), it almost makes up for the lack of spilled blood and guts when the horror aspect of the film finally kicks in.
Most satires take themselves too seriously at some point and Boy Eats Girl is no different. The romance between Nathan and Jessica felt too overdone in the beginning, leading to the most controversial scene in the movie that initially got it banned in its native Ireland. The attempted suicide scene was clumsy and awkward; not exactly an endorsement for depressed teenagers everywhere.
The film starts out slow, working out the set-up of the eventual suicide that triggers the rest of the plot, leaving just a third of the movie for bona fide zombie mayhem. Each transition is disjointed and rushed, especially the weak example of a deus ex machina during the last minutes of the film.
The 1-dimensional characters and unresolved storylines are indicative of the apathetic acting and lack of fleshed-out character development. Mumba does not show any signs of being a tough female character in the beginning, making a transformation into the movies heroine seem out of character. Leons Nathan seems too self-aware and confident to pull off being the angst-ridden chump who finds it hard to bring up his true feelings around Jessica.
From start to end, its campy throwback to nonsensical horror-comedy masks its inability to find its feet and its problematic attempts at satire. Suffering from a painfully short running time and an overly brisk pacing at the end, Boy Eats Girl does not fulfill the potential it has. What it does achieve is a quick and harmless way to spend just over an hour when bored.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars